Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Epistle Sermons, Vol. II - Epiphany, Easter and Pentecost
Author: Luther, Martin, 1483-1546
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Epistle Sermons, Vol. II - Epiphany, Easter and Pentecost" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



Libraries)



LUTHER'S
EPISTLE SERMONS
EPIPHANY, EASTER AND PENTECOST


TRANSLATED WITH THE HELP OF OTHERS
BY
PROF. JOHN NICHOLAS LENKER, D.D.

AUTHOR OF "LUTHERANS IN ALL LANDS," TRANSLATOR OF LUTHER'S WORKS INTO
ENGLISH AND PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL LUTHERAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION



VOL. II.
(_Volume VIII of Luther's Complete Works_.)

THIRD THOUSAND



_The Luther Press_
MINNEAPOLIS, MINN., U.S.A.
1909.



_Dedication_

To All, Pastors and Laymen, who appreciate the true place of Luther's
Writings in the Evangelization of Europe, and are interested in the
Evangelization of the world, this volume of Easter and Pentecost
Epistle Sermons of the English Luther is gratefully and prayerfully
dedicated.



Copyright, 1909, by J. N. LENKER.



_Foreword_


The Evangelization of the World is being accomplished more rapidly
than we think. Three mighty movements are constantly at
work--Reformation, Heathen Missions and Emigration or Colonization. By
the Reformation Europe was evangelized; by Heathen Missions Asia and
Africa are being evangelized and by Emigration or Colonization North
and South America and Australia have been to a large extent
evangelized. In "Lutherans In All Lands," published in 1893, and in
the introduction to the volume on St. Peter's Epistles of the English
Luther, we emphasized the relation of the Evangelical-Lutheran church
and of Luther's writings to the evangelization of the world through
these three movements. In view of the recent marvelous growth in
interest in Heathen Missions and the false ideas about Luther's
relation to this theme, the following may be in place here in this
volume of Easter and Pentecost sermons:

The Christian religion being preëminently missionary the Reformation
of the Christian Church would necessarily be missionary. Protestant
missions began with Protestantism.

Herzog's Encyclopedia says: "Luther himself already seizes every
opportunity offered by a text of the Divine Word in order to remind
believers of the distress of the Heathen and Turks and earnestly urges
them to pray in their behalf, and to send out missionaries to them. In
accord with him all the prominent theologians and preachers of his
day, and of the succeeding period inculcated the missionary duty of
the Church. Many also of the Evangelical princes cherished the work
with Christian love and zeal."

Luther's interest in the work of true evangelization is seen in the
name he designedly chose for the church of his followers. He did not
call it Protestant nor Lutheran, but conscientiously insisted upon it
being called the Evangelical, or in plain Anglo-Saxon, the Gospel
church, the Evangelizing church. Because of Luther's emphasis on the
word evangelical there are properly speaking no Lutheran, but only
Evangelical-Lutheran churches. He is the evangelist of Protestantism
in the true sense.

Of the library of 110 volumes of which Luther is the author, 85 of
them treat of the Bible and expound its pure evangelical teachings in
commentaries, sermons and catechetical writings. He popularized the
word evangelical. With his tongue and pen he labored incessantly for
the evangelization of Europe. That Europe is evangelized is due more
to his labors and writings than to those of any other. What those
writings did for Europe they may do, and we believe, will do, for the
world in a greater or less degree. The greatest evangelist of Europe
has a God-given place in the evangelization of the world. His most
evangelical classics should be translated into all the dialects of
earth as soon as the Bible is given to the people in their native
tongue.

Dr. Warneck says: "By the Reformation the christianizing of a large
part of Europe was first completed, and so far it may be said to have
carried on a mission work at home on an extensive scale." Further he
says: "The Reformation certainly did a great indirect service to the
cause of missions to the heathen, as it not only restored the true
substance of missionary preaching by its earnest proclamation of the
Gospel, but also brought back the whole work of missions on Apostolic
lines. Luther rightly combats, as Plitt insists, 'the secularizing of
missionary work.'"

In explaining the 117th Psalm Luther says: "If all the heathen shall
praise God, he must first be their God. Shall he be their God? Then
they must know him and believe in him, and put away all idolatry,
since God can not be praised with idolatrous lips or with unbelieving
hearts. Shall they believe? Then they must first hear his Word and by
it receive the Holy Spirit, who cleanses and enlightens their heart
through faith. Are they to hear his Word? Then preachers must be sent
who shall declare to them the Word of God." So in his familiar hymn,
"Es wolle Gott uns gnaedig sein."

    "And Jesus Christ, His saving strength
     To Gentiles to make known,
     That thee, O God, may thank and praise
     The Gentiles everywhere."

In commenting on the words of the Second Psalm, "Ask of me and I will
give thee the heathen for thine inheritance," Luther says: "Christ,
therefore, being upon earth and appointed king upon Mount Zion,
receives the Gentiles who were then promised unto him. The words 'of
me' are not spoken without a particular meaning. They are to show that
this kingdom and this inheritance of the Gentiles are conferred on
Christ, not by men, nor in any human way, but by God, that is,
spiritually."

All who retain the good old custom of the fathers in reading Luther's
Postil sermons on the Gospel and Epistle texts for each Sunday know
what deep missionary thoughts are found in the sermons for Epiphany,
Ascension Day and Pentecost.

In one sermon for Ascension Day on "Go ye into all the world and
preach the Gospel to the whole creation," we read, "these words of the
Sovereign Ruler commission these poor beggars to go forth and proclaim
this new message, not in one city or country only, but in all the
world."

For the history of the writing of these sermons the reader is referred
to volumes 10, 11, 12 and 13 of the Gospel sermons of Luther's works
in English.

The German text will be readily found in the 12th volume of the Walch
and of the St. Louis Walch editions, and in the 8th volume of the
Erlangen edition of Luther's works.

Due acknowledgment is hereby made of aid received from the translation
of Pastor Ambrose Henkel, and published in 1869, at New Market,
Virginia. Also to Pastor C. B. Gohdes, for comparing the manuscript
from the Third Sunday before Lent with the German text and making
valuable improvements.

J. N. LENKER.

Home for Young Women,
Minneapolis, Minn., March 22, 1909.



_Contents_

                                                                 Page.
First Sunday After Epiphany.--The Fruits of Faith. Our Spiritual
  Service. Romans 12, 1-6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    7

Second Sunday After Epiphany.--The Gifts and Works of Christ's
  Members. Our Christian Duty. Romans 12, 6-16  . . . . . . . . .   20

Third Sunday After Epiphany.--Christian Revenge. Romans 12, 16-21   51

Fourth Sunday After Epiphany.--Christian Love and the Command to
  Love. Romans 13, 8-10 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   56

Fifth Sunday After Epiphany.--The Glorious Adornment of
  Christians. Colossians 3, 12-17 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   76

Third Sunday Before Lent.--The Christian Race for the Prize.
  1 Corinthians 9, 24-10, 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   93

Second Sunday Before Lent.--Paul's Glory in His Labor and
  Sufferings. 2 Corinthians 11, 19-12, 9  . . . . . . . . . . . .  104

Sunday Before Lent.--Paul's Praise of Christian Love.
  1 Corinthians 13  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  119

First Sunday in Lent.--An Entreaty to Live as Christians.
  2 Corinthians 6, 1-10 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  133

Second Sunday in Lent.--Exhortation to Holiness. 1 Thessalonians
  4, 1-7  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  145

Third Sunday in Lent.--Exhortation to be Imitators of God.
  Ephesians 5, 1-9  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  150

Fourth Sunday in Lent.--The Children of Promise. Galatians 4,
  21-31 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  162

Fifth Sunday in Lent.--Christ Our Great High Priest. Hebrews 9,
  11-15 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  163

Palm Sunday.--Christ an Example of Love. Christ's Humiliation and
  Exaltation. Philippians 2, 5-11 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  169


SUMMER PART OF THE EPISTLE POSTIL.

Easter Sunday.--Purging Out the Old Leaven and the New Easter
  Festival of Christians. 1 Corinthians 5, 6-8  . . . . . . . . .  181

Easter Monday.--Peter's Sermon on the Blessings of Christ's
  Resurrection. Acts 10, 34-43  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  194

Easter Tuesday.--Paul's Sermon on the Power and Blessings of
  Christ's Resurrection. Acts 13, 26-39 . . . . . . . . . . . . .  202

Second Sermon.--The Divine Word and the Resurrection. Acts 13,
  26-39 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  204

Easter Wednesday.--The Fruit That Follows Belief in the
  Resurrection. Colossians 3, 1-7 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  217

Sunday After Easter.--The Victory of Faith and the Witness of the
  Holy Spirit Through Baptism. 1 John 5, 4-12 . . . . . . . . . .  231

Second Sunday After Easter.--An Exhortation to Patience by
  Christ's Example in Suffering. 1 Peter 2, 20-25 . . . . . . . .  248

Third Sunday After Easter.--Our Christian Duties. An Exhortation
  to the New Christian Life. 1 Peter 2, 11-20 . . . . . . . . . .  272

Second Sermon.--The Resurrection of the Dead. 1 Corinthians 15,
  20-28 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  285

Fourth Sunday After Easter.--The Resurrection of the Dead.
  1 Corinthians 15, 35-50 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  287

Second Sermon.--Our Gifts and Duties. James 1, 16-21  . . . . . .  289

Fifth Sunday After Easter.--The Change of Our Mortal Body and the
  Destruction of Death. 1 Corinthians 15, 51-58 . . . . . . . . .  301

Ascension Day.--The History of Christ's Ascension. Acts 1, 1-11 .  301

Sunday After Ascension Day.--Soberness in Prayer and Fervency in
  Love, and the Proper Functions of Church Officers. 1 Peter 4,
  7-11  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  303

Pentecost.--The History of Pentecost. Acts 2, 1-13  . . . . . . .  329

Pentecost Monday.--Peter's Sermon on Joel's Prophecy on the
  Outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2, 14-28  . . . . . . . . .  336

Pentecost Tuesday.--The Resurrection and Glorification of Christ
  Through the Sending of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2, 29-36 . . . . .  336



_First Sunday After Epiphany_

Text: Romans 12, 1-6.

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present
your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your
spiritual service. 2 And be not fashioned according to this world: but
be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what
is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. 3 For I say,
through the grace that was given me, to every man that is among you,
not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but so to
think as to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to each man a
measure of faith. 4 For even as we have many members in one body, and
all the members have not the same office: 5 so we, who are many, are
one body in Christ, and severally members one of another. 6 And having
gifts differing according to the grace that was given to us.


THE FRUITS OF FAITH.

1. In the preceding sermons I have treated sufficiently of faith and
love; and of crosses and afflictions, the promoters of hope. Faith,
love and affliction bound the Christian's life. It is unnecessary that
I should further discourse on these topics. As they--or anything
pertaining to the life of the Christian--present themselves, reference
may be had to those former postils. It is my purpose now briefly to
make plain that the sum of all divine doctrine is simply Jesus Christ,
as we have often heard.

2. This epistle lesson treats not of faith, but of the fruits of
faith--love, unity, patience, self-denial, etc. Among these fruits,
the apostle considers first the discipline of the body--the
mortification of evil lusts. He handles the subject here in a manner
wholly unlike his method in other epistles. In Galatians he speaks of
crucifying the flesh with its lusts; in Hebrews and Colossians, of
putting off the old man and mortifying the members on earth. Here he
mentions presenting the body as a sacrifice; he dignifies it by the
loftiest and most sacred terms. Why does he so?

First, by making the terms glorious, he would the more emphatically
urge us to yield this fruit of faith. The whole world regards the
priest's office--his service and his dignity--as representing the acme
of nobility and exaltation; and so it truly does. Now, if one would be
a priest and exalted before God, let him set about this work of
offering up his body to God; in other words, let him be humble, let
him be nothing in the eyes of the world.

3. I will let every man decide for himself the difference between the
outward priesthood of dazzling character and the internal, spiritual
priesthood. The first is confined to a very few individuals; the
second, Christians commonly share. One was ordained of men,
independently of the Word of God; the other was established through
the Word, irrespective of human devices. In that, the skin is
besmeared with material oil; in this, the heart is internally anointed
with the Holy Spirit. That applauds and extols its works; this
proclaims and magnifies the grace of God, and his glory. That does not
offer up the body with its lusts, but rather fosters the evil desires
of the flesh; this sacrifices the body and mortifies its lusts. The
former permits the offering up to itself of gold and property, of
honor, of idleness and pleasure, and of all manner of lust on earth;
the latter foregoes these things and accepts only the reverse of
homage. That again sacrifices Christ in its awful perversions; this,
satisfied with the atonement once made by Christ, offers up itself
with him and in him, by making similar sacrifices. In fact, the two
priesthoods accord about as well as Christ and Barabbas, as light and
darkness, as God and the world. As little as smearing and shaving were
factors in Christ's priesthood, so little will they thus procure for
anyone the Christian priesthood. Yet Christ, with all his Christians,
is priest. "Thou art a priest for ever after the order of
Melchizedek." Ps 110, 4. The Christian priesthood will not admit of
appointment. The priest is not made. He must be born a priest; must
inherit his office. I refer to the new birth--the birth of water and
the Spirit. Thus all Christians become priests, children of God and
co-heirs with Christ the Most High Priest.

4. Men universally consider the title of priest glorious and
honorable; it is acceptable to everyone. But the duties and the
sacrifice of the office are rarely accepted. Men seem to be averse to
these latter. The Christian priesthood costs life, property, honor,
friends and all worldly things. It cost Christ the same on the holy
cross. No man readily chooses death instead of life, and accepts pain
instead of pleasure, loss instead of gain, shame rather than honor,
enemies rather than friends, according to the example Christ set for
us on the cross. And further, all this is to be endured, not for
profit to one's self, but for the benefit of his neighbor and for the
honor and glory of God. For so Christ offered up his body. This
priesthood is a glorious one.

5. As I have frequently stated, the suffering and work of Christ is to
be viewed in two lights: First, as grace bestowed on us, as a blessing
conferred, requiring the exercise of faith on our part and our
acceptance of the salvation offered. Second, we are to regard it an
example for us to follow; we are to offer up ourselves for our
neighbors' benefit and for the honor of God. This offering is the
exercise of our love--distributing our works for the benefit of our
neighbors. He who so does is a Christian. He becomes one with Christ,
and the offering of his body is identical with the offering of
Christ's body. This is what Peter calls offering sacrifices acceptable
to God by Christ. He describes priesthood and offering in these words:
"Ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, to be a
holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God
through Jesus Christ." 1 Pet 2, 5.

6. Peter says "spiritual sacrifices," but Paul says our bodies are to
be offered up. While it is true that the body is not spirit, the
offering of it is called a spiritual sacrifice because it is freely
sacrificed through the Spirit, the Christian being uninfluenced by the
constraints of the Law or the fear of hell. Such motives, however,
sway the ecclesiasts, who have heaped tortures upon themselves by
undergoing fasts, uncomfortable clothing, vigils, hard beds and other
vain and difficult performances, and yet failed to attain to this
spiritual sacrifice. Rather, they have wandered the farther from it
because of their neglect to mortify their old Adam-like nature. They
have but increased in presumption and wickedness, thinking by their
works and merits to raise themselves in God's estimation. Their
penances were not intended for the mortification of their bodies, but
as works meriting for them superior seats in heaven. Properly, then,
their efforts may be regarded a carnal sacrifice of their bodies,
unacceptable to God and most acceptable to the devil.

7. But spiritual sacrifices, Peter tells us, are acceptable to God;
and Paul teaches the same (Rom 8, 13): "If by the Spirit ye put to
death the deeds of the body, ye shall live." Paul speaks of mortifying
through the Spirit; Peter, of a spiritual sacrifice. The offering must
first be slain. Paul's thought is: "If ye mortify the deeds of the
body in your individual, chosen ways, unprompted by the Spirit or your
own heart, simply through fear of punishment, that mortification--that
sacrifice--will be carnal; and ye shall not live, but die a death the
more awful." The Spirit must mortify your deeds--spiritually it must
be done; that is, with real enjoyment, unmoved by fear of hell,
voluntarily, without expectation of meriting honor or reward, either
temporal or eternal. This, mark you, is a spiritual sacrifice. However
outward, gross, physical and visible a deed may be, it is altogether
spiritual when wrought by the Spirit. Even eating and drinking are
spiritual works if done through the Spirit. On the other hand,
whatsoever is wrought through the flesh is carnal, no matter to what
extent it may be a secret desire of the soul. Paul (Gal 5, 20) terms
idolatry and heresies works of the flesh, notwithstanding they are
invisible impulses of the soul.

8. In addition to this spiritual sacrifice--the mortifying of the
deeds of the body--Peter mentions another, later on in the same
chapter: "But ye are ... a royal priesthood ... that ye may show forth
the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his
marvelous light." Here Peter touches upon the preaching office, the
real sacrificial office, concerning which it is said (Ps 50, 23),
"Whoso offereth the sacrifice of thanksgiving glorifieth me."
Preaching extols the grace of God. It is the offering of praise and
thanks. Paul boasts (Rom 15, 16) that he sanctifies and offers the
Gospel. But it is not our purpose to consider here this sacrifice of
praise; though praise in the congregation may be included in the
spiritual sacrifice, as we shall see. For he who offers his body to
God also offers his tongue and his lips as instruments to confess,
preach and extol the grace of God. On this topic, however, we shall
speak elsewhere. Let us now consider the words of the text.


OUR SPIRITUAL SERVICE.

"I beseech you therefore, brethren."

9. Paul does not say, "I command you." He is preaching to those
already godly Christians through faith in the new man; to hearers who
are not to be constrained by commandments, but to be admonished. For
the object is to secure voluntary renunciation of their old, sinful,
Adam-like nature. He who will not cheerfully respond to friendly
admonition is no Christian. And he who attempts by the restraints of
law to compel the unwilling to renunciation, is no Christian preacher
or ruler; he is but a worldly jailer.

"By the mercies of God."

10. A teacher of the Law enforces his restraints through threats and
punishments. A preacher of grace persuades and incites by calling
attention to the goodness and mercy of God. The latter does not desire
works prompted by an unwilling spirit, or service that is not the
expression of a cheerful heart. He desires that a joyous, willing
spirit shall incite to the service of God. He who cannot, by the
gracious and lovely message of God's mercy so lavishly bestowed upon
us in Christ, be persuaded in a spirit of love and delight to
contribute to the honor of God and the benefit of his neighbor, is
worthless to Christianity, and all effort is lost on him. How can one
whom the fire of heavenly love and grace cannot melt, be rendered
cheerfully obedient by laws and threats? Not human mercy is offered
us, but divine mercy, and Paul would have us perceive it and be moved
thereby.

"To present your bodies."

11. Many and various were the sacrifices of the Old Testament. But all
were typical of this one sacrifice of the body, offered by Christ and
his Christians. And there is not, nor can be, any other sacrifice in
the New Testament. What more would one, or could one, offer than
himself, all he is and all he has? When the body is yielded a
sacrifice, all belonging to the body is yielded also. Therefore, the
Old Testament sacrifices, with the priests and all the splendor, have
terminated. How does the offering of a penny compare with that of the
body? Indeed, such fragmentary patchwork scarcely deserves recognition
as a sacrifice when the bodies of Christ and of his followers are
offered.

Consequently, Isaiah may truly say that in the New Testament such
beggarly works are loathsome compared to real and great sacrifices:
"He that killeth an ox is as he that slayeth a man; he that
sacrificeth a lamb, as he that breaketh a dog's neck; he that offereth
an oblation, as he that offereth swine's blood; he that burneth
frankincense, as he that blesseth an idol." Is 66, 3. Similarly, also:
"What unto me is the multitude of your sacrifices? saith Jehovah: I
have had enough of the burnt-offerings of rams, and the fat of fed
beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of
he-goats." Is 1, 11. Thus, in plain words, Isaiah rejects all other
sacrifices in view of this true one.

12. Our blind leaders, therefore, have most wretchedly deceived the
world by their mass-offerings, for they have forgotten this one real
sacrifice. The mass may be celebrated and at the same time the soul be
not benefited, but rather injured. But the body cannot be offered
without benefiting the soul. Under the New Testament dispensation,
then, the mass cannot be a sacrifice, even were it ever one. For all
the works, all the sacrifices of the New Testament, must be true and
soul-benefiting. Otherwise they are not New Testament sacrifices. It
is said (Ps 25, 10), "All the paths of Jehovah are lovingkindness and
truth."

"A living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God."

13. Paul here makes use of the three words "living," "holy" and
"acceptable," doubtless to teach that the sacrifices of the Old
Testament are repealed and the entire priesthood abolished. The Old
Testament sacrifices consisted of bullocks, sheep and goats. To these
life was not spared. For the sacrifice they were slain, burned,
consumed by the priests. But the New Testament sacrifice is a
wonderful offering. Though slain, it still lives. Indeed, in
proportion as it is slain and sacrificed, does it live in vigor. "If
by the Spirit ye put to death the deeds of the body, ye shall live."
Rom 8, 13. "For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God." Col
3, 3. "And they that are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with
the passions and the lusts thereof." Gal 5, 24.

14. The word "living," then, is to be spiritually understood--as
having reference to the life before God and not to the temporal life.
He who keeps his body under and mortifies its lusts does not live to
the world; he does not lead the life of the world. The world lives in
its lusts, and according to the flesh; it is powerless to live
otherwise. True, the Christian is bodily in the world, yet he does not
live after the flesh. As Paul says (2 Cor 10, 3), "Though we walk in
the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh"; and again (Rom 8,
1), "Who walk not after the flesh." Such a life is, before God,
eternal, and a true, living sacrifice. Such mortification of the body
and of its lusts, whether effected by voluntary discipline or by
persecution, is simply an exercise in and for the life eternal.

15. None of the Old Testament sacrifices were holy--except in an
external and temporal sense--until they were consumed. For the life of
the animal was but temporal and external previous to the sacrifice.
But the "living sacrifice" Paul mentions is righteous before God, and
also externally holy. "Holy" implies simply, being designed for the
service and the honor of God, and employed of God. Hence we must here
understand the word "holy" as conveying the thought that we let God
alone work in us and we be simply his holy instruments. As said in
First Corinthians 6, 19-20, "Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost
... and ye are not your own ... therefore glorify God in your body,
and in your spirit, which are God's." Again (Gal 6, 17), "I bear
branded on my body the marks of Jesus." Now, he who performs a work
merely for his own pleasure and to his own honor, profanes his
sacrifice. So also do they who by their works seek to merit reward
from God, whether temporal or eternal. The point of error is, they are
not yet a slain sacrifice. The sacrifice cannot be holy unless it
first lives; that is, unless it is slain before God, and slain in its
own consciousness, and thus does not seek its own honor and glory.

16. The Old Testament sacrifices were not in themselves acceptable to
God. Nor did they render man acceptable. But in the estimation of the
world--before men--they were pleasing, even regarded highly worthy.
Men thought thereby to render themselves well-pleasing in God's sight.
But the spiritual sacrifice is, in man's estimation, the most
repugnant and unacceptable of all things. It condemns, mortifies and
opposes whatever, in man's judgment, is good and well-pleasing. For,
as before stated, nature cannot do otherwise than to live according to
the flesh, particularly to follow its own works and inventions. It
cannot admit that all its efforts and designs are vain and worthy of
mortification and of death. The spiritual sacrifice is acceptable to
God, Paul teaches, however unacceptable it may be to the world. They
who render this living, holy sacrifice are happy and assured of their
acceptance with God; they know God requires the death of the lusts and
inventions of the flesh, and he alone desires to live and work in us.

17. Consequently, Paul's use of the word "body" includes more than
outward, sensual vices and crimes, as gluttony, fornication, murder;
it includes everything not of the new spiritual birth but belonging to
the old Adam nature, even its best and noblest faculties, outer and
inner; the deep depravity of self-will, for instance, and arrogance,
human wisdom and reason, reliance on our own good works, on our own
spiritual life and on the gifts wherewith God has endowed our nature.

To illustrate: Take the most spiritual and the wisest individuals on
earth, and while it is true that a fraction of them are outwardly and
physically chaste, their hearts, it will be found, are filled with
haughtiness, presumption and self-will, while they delight in their
own wisdom and peculiar conduct. No saint is wholly free from the deep
depravity of the inner nature. Hence he must constantly offer himself
up, mortifying his old deceitful self. Paul calls it sacrificing the
body, because the individual, on becoming a Christian, lives more than
half spiritually, and the evil propensities remaining to be mortified
Paul attributes to the body as to the inferior, the less important,
part of man; the part not as yet wholly under the Spirit's influence.

"Which is your spiritual (reasonable) service."

18. A clear distinction is here made between the services rendered God
by Christians and those which the Jews rendered. The thought is: The
Jews' service to God consisted in sacrifices of irrational beasts, but
the service of Christians, in spiritual sacrifices--the sacrifice of
their bodies, their very selves. The Jews offered gold and silver;
they built an inanimate temple of wood and stone. Christians are a
different people. Their sacrifices are not silver and gold. Their
temple is not wood and stone; it is themselves. "Ye are a temple of
God." 1 Cor 3, 16. Thus you observe the unfair treatment accorded
Christians in ignoring their peculiar services and inducing the world
to build churches, to erect altars and monasteries, and to manufacture
bells, chalices and images by way of Christian service--works that
would have been too burdensome for even the Jews.

19. In brief, this our reasonable service is rightly called a
spiritual service of the heart, performed in the faith and the
knowledge of God. Here Paul rejects all service not performed in faith
as entirely unreasonable, even if rendered by the body and in outward
act, and having the appearance of great holiness and spiritual life.
Such have been the works, offerings, monkery and stringent life of the
Papists, performed without the knowledge of God--having no command of
God--and without spirit and heart. They have thought that so long as
the works were performed they must be pleasing to God, independent of
their faith. Such was also the service of the Jews in their works and
offerings, and of all who knew not Christ and were without faith.
Hence they were no better than the service and works of idolatrous and
ignorant heathen.

"And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed
by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is the good and
acceptable and perfect will of God."

20. As before said, the world cannot endure the sight or hearing of
this living sacrifice; therefore it opposes it on every side. With its
provocations and threats, its enticements and persecutions, it has
every advantage, aided by the fact that our minds and spirits are not
occupied with that spiritual sacrifice, but we give place to the
dispositions and inclinations of the world. We must be careful, then,
to follow neither the customs of the world nor our own reason or
plausible theories. We must constantly subdue our dispositions and
control our wills, not obeying the dictates of reason and desire.
Always we are to conduct ourselves in a manner unlike the way of the
world. So shall we be daily changed--renewed in our minds. That is, we
come each day to place greater value on the things condemned by human
reason--by the world. Daily we prefer to be poor, sick and despised,
to be fools and sinners, until ultimately we regard death as better
than life, foolishness as more precious than wisdom, shame nobler than
honor, labor more blessed than wealth, and sin more glorious than
human righteousness. Such a mind the world does not possess. The mind
of the world is altogether unlike the Christian's. It not only
continues unchanged and unrenewed in its old disposition, but is
obdurate and very old.

21. God's will is ever good and perfect, ever gracious; but it is not
at all times so regarded of men. Indeed, human reason imagines it to
be the evil, unfriendly, abominable will of the devil, because what
reason esteems highest, best and holiest, God's will regards as
nothing and worthy of death. Therefore, Christian experience must come
to the rescue and decide. It must feel and prove, must test and
ascertain, whether one is prompted by a sincere and gracious will. He
who perseveres and learns in this way will go forward in his
experience, finding God's will so gracious and pleasing he would not
exchange it for all the world's wealth. He will discover that
acceptance of God's will affords him more happiness, even in poverty,
disgrace and adversity, than is the lot of any worldling in the midst
of earthly honors and pleasures. He will finally arrive at a degree of
perfection making him inclined to exchange life for death, and, with
Paul, to desire to depart that sin may no more live in him, and that
the will of God may be done perfectly in himself in every relation. In
this respect he is wholly unlike the world; he conducts himself very
differently from it. For the world never has enough of this life,
while the experienced Christian is ready to be removed. What the world
seeks, he avoids; what it avoids, he seeks.

22. Paul, you will observe, does not consider the Christian absolutely
free from sin, since he beseeches us to be "transformed by the
renewing of the mind." Where transformation and renewal are necessary,
something of the old and sinful nature must yet remain. This sin is
not imputed to Christians, because they daily endeavor to effect
transformation and renovation. Sin exists in them against their will.
Flesh and spirit are contrary to each other (Gal 5, 17), therefore we
do not what we would. Rom 7, 15.

Paul makes particular mention of "the mind" here, by contrast making
plainer what is intended by the "body" which he beseeches them to
sacrifice. The scriptural sense of the word "mind" has already been
sufficiently defined as "belief," which is the source of either vice
or virtue. For what I value, I believe to be right. I observe what I
value, as do others. But when belief is wrong, conscience and faith
have not control. Where unity of mind among men is lacking, love and
peace cannot be present; and where love and faith are not present,
only the world and the devil reign. Hence transformation by renewal of
the mind is of vital importance. Now follows:


SOBER THOUGHTS OF OURSELVES.

"For I say, through the grace that was given me, to every man that is
among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think;
but so to think as to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to
every man a measure of faith."

23. Paul, in all his epistles, is careful to give this instruction to
Christians. His purpose is to preserve simplicity of faith among them
everywhere; to prevent sects and schisms in Christian life, which have
their origin in differing minds, in diversity of belief. To make
admonition the more forcible, he refers to his apostolic office; to
the fact that he was, by the grace of God, chosen and sent to teach
the things he advocates. His words here mean: "Ye possess many graces,
but let everyone take heed to confine his belief and opinions to the
limits of faith. Let him not esteem himself above another, nor attach
to the gifts conferred upon himself greater value than he accords
those conferred upon another. Otherwise he will be inclined to despise
the lesser gifts and emphasize the more exalted ones, and to influence
others to the same practice." Where there is not such humility,
recourse is had to works and to the honoring of gifts, while faith is
neglected. Thus belief prompts to do as the world does, to value what
is exalted and to despise what is humble.

24. This principle cannot be better illustrated than by the prevailing
examples of our time. For instance, monks and priests have established
spiritual orders which they regard highly meritorious. In this respect
they do not think soberly, but extravagantly. They imagine ordinary
Christians to be insignificant in comparison with them. But their
orders represent neither faith nor love, and are not commanded by God.
They are peculiar, something devised by the monks and priests
themselves. Hence there is division. Because of the different beliefs,
numerous sects exist, each striving for first place. Consequently, all
the orders become unprofitable in God's sight. The love and faith and
harmony which unite Christians are dissipated.

25. Paul teaches that, however varied the gifts and the outward works,
none should, because of these, esteem himself good, nor regard himself
better than others. Rather, every man should estimate his own goodness
by his faith. Faith is something all Christians have, though not in
equal measure, some possessing more and others less. However, in faith
all have the same possession--Christ. The murderer upon the cross,
through faith, had Christ in himself as truly as had Peter, Paul,
Abraham, the mother of the Lord, and all saints; though his faith may
not have been so strong. Therefore, though gifts be unequal, the
precious faith is the same. Now, if we are to glory in the treasures
of faith only, not in the gifts, every man should esteem another's
gifts as highly as his own, and with his own gifts serve that other
who in faith possesses equal treasure with him. Then will continue
loving harmony and simple faith, and none will fall back upon his own
works or merits. Of this "mind," or belief, you may read further in
the preceding postils, especially in the epistle selection for the
third Sunday in Advent. Further comment on this text will be left for
the next epistle lesson, the two being closely connected.



_Second Sunday After Epiphany_

Text: Romans 12, 6-16.

6 And having gifts differing according to the grace that was given to
us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of
our faith; 7 or ministry, let us give ourselves to our ministry; or he
that teacheth, to his teaching; 8 or he that exhorteth, to his
exhorting; he that giveth, let him do it with liberality; he that
ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness. 9
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to
that which is good. 10 In love of the brethren be tenderly affectioned
one to another; in honor preferring one another; 11 in diligence not
slothful; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope;
patient in tribulation; continuing stedfastly in prayer; 13
communicating to the necessities of the saints; given to hospitality.
14 Bless them that persecute you; bless, and curse not. 15 Rejoice
with them that rejoice; weep with them that weep. 16 Be of the same
mind one toward another. Set not your mind on high things, but
condescend to things that are lowly.


GIFTS AND WORKS OF CHRIST'S MEMBERS.

1. This lesson begins in a way that would seem to call for a portion
properly belonging to the epistle for the preceding Sunday, and
terminates short of its full connection. Evidently it was arranged by
some unlearned and thoughtless individual, with a view simply to
making convenient reading in the churches and not to its explanation
to the people. It will be necessary to a clear comprehension,
therefore, to note its real connections.

2. In the epistle for last Sunday, the apostle teaches that as
Christians we are to renew our minds by sacrificing our bodies, thus
preserving the true character of faith; that we are not to regard
ourselves as good or perfect without faith, if we would avoid the rise
of sects and conflicting opinions among Christians; that each is to
continue firm in the measure of faith God has given him, whether it be
weak or strong; that he shall use his gifts to his neighbor's profit,
and then they will not be regarded special favors by the less gifted,
and the common faith will be generally prized as the highest and most
precious treasure, the result being satisfaction for all men. Paul
next adds the simile: "For even as we have many members in one body,
and all the members have not the same office: so we, who are many, are
one body in Christ, and severally members one of another." Then
follows our selection for today, the connection being, "And having
gifts differing according to the grace that was given to us," etc.
Paul likens the various gifts to ourselves, the different members of
the common body of Christ.

It is an apt and beautiful simile, one he makes use of frequently; for
instance, 1 Cor 12, 12 and Eph 4, 16. It teaches directly and clearly
the equality of all Christians; that one common faith should satisfy
all; that gifts are not to be regarded as making one better, happier
and more righteous than another, in the eyes of God. The latter idea
is certainly erroneous, and destructive of faith, which alone avails
with God.


WE ARE BORN MEMBERS OF CHRIST.

3. First, if we examine this simile, we shall find that all the
members perform certain functions of the body because they are members
of it; and no member has its place through its own efforts or its own
merits. It was born a member, before the exercise of office was
possible. It acts by virtue of being a member; it does not become a
member by virtue of its action. It derives existence and all its
powers from the body, regardless of its own exertions. The body,
however, exercises its members as occasion requires. The eye has not
attained its place because of its power of seeing--not because it has
merited its office as an organ of sight for the body. In the very
beginning it derived its existence and its peculiar function of sight
from the body. It cannot, therefore, boast in the slightest degree
that by its independent power of seeing it has deserved its place as
an eye. It has the honor and right of its position solely through its
birth, not because of any effort on its part.

4. Similarly, no Christian can boast that his own efforts have made
him a member of Christ, with other Christians, in the common faith.
Nor can he by any work constitute himself a Christian. He performs
good works by virtue of having become a Christian, in the new birth,
through faith, regardless of any merit of his own. Clearly, then, good
works do not make Christians, but Christians bring forth good works.
The fruit does not make the tree, but the tree produces the fruit.
Seeing does not make the eye, but the eye produces vision. In short,
cause ever precedes effect; effect does not produce cause, but cause
produces effect. Now, if good works do not make a Christian, do not
secure the grace of God and blot out our sins, they do not merit
heaven. No one but a Christian can enjoy heaven. One cannot secure it
by his works, but by being a member of Christ; an experience effected
through faith in the Word of God.

5. How, then, shall we regard those who teach us to exterminate our
sins, to secure grace, to merit heaven, all by our own works; who
represent their ecclesiastical orders as special highways to heaven?
What is their theory? They teach, as you observe, that cause is
produced by effect. Just as if mere muscular tissue that is not a
tongue becomes a tongue by fluent speaking, or becomes mouth and
throat by virtue of much drinking; as if running makes feet; keen
hearing, an ear; smelling, a nose; nourishment at the mother's breast,
a child; suspension from the apple-tree, an apple. Beautiful
specimens, indeed, would these be--fine tongues, throats and ears,
fine children, fine apples.

6. What sort of foolish, perverted individuals are they who so teach?
Well might you exclaim: "What impossible undertakings, what useless
burdens and hardships, they assume!" Yes, what but burdens do they
deserve who pervert God's truth into falsehood; who change the gifts
God designed for man's benefit into acts of service rendered by man to
God; who, unwilling to abide in the common faith, aspire to exalted
and peculiar place as priests and beings superior to other Christians?
They deserve to be overwhelmed in astonishing folly and madness, and
to be burdened with useless labors and hardships in their attempts to
do impossible things. They cheat the world of its blessings while they
fill themselves. It is said of them (Ps 14, 4-5): "Have all the
workers of iniquity no knowledge, who eat up my people as they eat
bread, and call not upon Jehovah?"--that is, they live not in faith.
And continuing--"There were they in great fear"; meaning that here and
there they make that a matter of conscience which is not, because they
cling to works and not to faith.


EACH MEMBER CONTENT WITH ITS OWN POWERS.

7. In the second place, the simile teaches that each member of the
body is content with the other members, and rejoices in its powers,
not being solicitous as to whether any be superior to itself. For
instance, the nose is inferior in office to the eye, yet in the
relation they sustain to each other the former is not envious of the
latter; rather, it rejoices in the superior function the eye performs.
On the other hand, the eye does not despise the nose; it rejoices in
all the powers of the other members. As Paul says elsewhere (1 Cor 12,
23): "Those parts of the body, which we think to be less honorable,
upon these we bestow more abundant honor." Thus we see that hand and
eye, regardless of their superior office, labor carefully to clothe
and adorn the less honorable members. They make the best use of their
own distinction to remove the dishonor and shame of the inferior
members.

8. However unequal the capacities and distinction of the individual
members of the body, they are equal in that they are all parts of the
same body. The eye cannot claim any better right to a place in the
body than the least distinguished member has. Nor can it boast greater
authority over the body than any other member enjoys. And thus it does
not essay to do. It grants all members equal participation in the
body. Likewise, all Christians, whether strong in faith or weak,
perfect or defective, share equally in Christ and are equal in
Christendom. Each may appropriate the whole Christ unto himself. I may
boast as much in Christ as Peter or the mother of God may boast. Nor
do I envy Peter because he is a more distinguished member of the
Christian Church than I. I am glad of it. On the other hand, he does
not despise me for being a less honored member. I am a part of the
same body to which he belongs, and I possess Christ as well as he
does.

9. The self-righteous are unable to concede this equality. They must
stir up sects and distinctions among Christians. Priests aspire to be
better than laymen; monks better than priests; virgins than wives. The
diligent, in praying and fasting, would be better than the laborer;
and they who lead austere lives, more righteous than they of ordinary
life. This is the work of the devil, and productive of every form of
evil. Opposed to it is Christ's doctrine in our text. Under such
conditions as mentioned, faith and love are subverted. The unlearned
are deluded, and led away from faith to works and orders. Inequality
is everywhere. The ecclesiasts desire to sit in high places, to
receive all honor, to have their feet kissed, and will honor and
respect none but themselves. Indeed, they would ultimately intercede
for poor Christians, would be mediators between them and God,
attaching no importance whatever to the stations in life occupied by
these. They proceed as if they alone were members of Christ, and as if
their relation to him could not be closer. Then they presume by their
works to constitute others members of Christ, being careful, however,
to demand adequate financial return for the service. They are members
of the devil; not of Christ.


EACH MEMBER SERVES ALL THE OTHERS.

10. In the third place, according to the simile each member of the
body conducts itself in a manner to profit the others--the whole body.
The eye prepares the way for hand and foot. The foot, in its carriage
of the body, safeguards the eye. Each member ever cares for and serves
the others. More beautiful figures of love and good works are not to
be found than those derived from the body with its members. In the
members we daily bear about with us, and with which we are continually
familiar, God has described the law of love in a living and forcible
manner. Upon the principle there illustrated, the Christian should
act, conducting himself in a way to profit not himself but others, and
having a sincere interest in them. Under such conditions, schisms and
sects could not spring up among us.

11. But we are blind; we neither see nor read the beautiful lesson
taught us in our own bodies. We proceed to invent good works as a
means of improving our condition and bringing ourselves into a saved
state. This error is attributable to our lack of faith and of heart
knowledge of Christ. Hence we are restless in soul, seeking to be
liberated from sin and to become righteous. The heart in its ignorance
of the sufficiency of common faith, engages in these abnormal, special
works. There is where foolish individuals begin to disregard faith and
love, imagining such works true ways to heaven. One takes up one
thing, and another something else, and so it goes, until there is
nothing but sects. One sect condemns and rejects the other. Each,
exalting itself beyond measure, claims superiority.


EACH MEMBER SUFFERS AND REJOICES WITH ALL.

12. In the fourth place, "whether one member suffereth, all the
members suffer with it; or one member is honored, all the members
rejoice with it," as Paul says. 1 Cor 12, 26. In short, no member
lives and acts for itself; all obey and serve one another, and the
more honored members serve most. Each seems to say: "I desire not to
be otherwise than as I am. I am satisfied to be a member of the same
body with the others, and to have equal rights and honors therein. It
is unnecessary for me to exert myself to share in that body, for I am
already a member of it, and content. My efforts I direct to serving
the body--all the members, my beloved brothers and partners. I assume
no peculiarities. I would not cause discord and conflict."

13. Observe, this is the way all true, righteous Christians do, as we
have frequently said. They who conduct themselves otherwise cannot be
true Christians; they are worse--more pernicious--than heathen. They
cannot refrain from instigating sects; from assuming some peculiarity,
some special doctrine, wherein they proudly exalt themselves above
other men. Thus they lure to themselves the hearts of the unlearned.
Against this class Paul here, as everywhere, faithfully warns us.

14. See, then, that you become a member of Christ. This is to be
accomplished through faith alone, regardless of works. And having
become a member, if God has appointed you a duty according to your
capacity, abide in it. Let no one allure you away from it. Esteem not
yourself better than others, but serve them, rejoicing in their works
and their offices as you do in your own, even if they are less
important. Faith renders you equal with others, and others equal with
you, and so on.


CHRISTIAN EQUALITY AND CHRISTIAN GIFTS.

Paul's design in this epistle is to teach equality. He would have no
one "think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but so to
think as to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to each man a
measure of faith." Or, to express it differently: "Let each one regard
that his work for which he has a gift, and let him perform it. But he
is not consequently to esteem himself superior to others differently
gifted. He should delight in their works, justly recognizing those
works as of God's grace, and knowing that God distributes the measure
of faith and this his grace not in one way, but in many ways." Paul's
peculiar choice of words here, referring to all gifts as the grace of
God and the measure of faith, is meant to teach that no man may regard
his individual gift as a peculiar instance in that respect, as do they
who are not of the common faith. It is the one same God, Spirit and
Lord, the apostle tells us (1 Cor 12, 5-11), who effects in this work
and that, whether small or great, in you or in me, in the one same
faith, love and hope.

15. The importance, the nobleness and helpfulness of this doctrine is
beyond our power of expression. The wretched condition of all
Christendom, divided as it is into innumerable sects, is, alas, plain
testimony that no body nor member, no faith nor love, seems longer to
exist anywhere. Unity of mind in relation to the various gifts of God
cannot exist in connection with human doctrines. Hence it is
impossible for the orders and the doctrines of our ecclesiastical
lords to stand with unity of mind; one or the other must fall.

16. "Measure of faith" may be understood as implying that God imparts
to some more of faith itself; and to others, less. But I presume
Paul's thought in employing the expression is that faith brings gifts,
which are its chief blessing. These are said to be according to the
measure of our faith, and not to the measure of our will or our merit.
We have not merited our gifts. Where faith exists, God honors it with
certain gifts, apportioned, or committed, according to his will. As we
have it in First Corinthians 12, 11, "dividing to each one severally
even as he will"; and in Ephesians 4, 16, "to each member according to
his measure." The same reason may be assigned for Paul's words,
"Having gifts differing according to the grace that was given to us,"
not "differing according to our merits." Grace as well as faith brings
these noble jewels--our gifts--to each one according to his measure.
It excludes in every respect our works and our merits, and directs us
to make our works minister only to our neighbors.

"Whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of our
faith."

17. The apostle enumerates several gifts, or works of Christian
members, mentioning prophecy first. Prophecy is of two kinds: One is
the foretelling of future events, a gift or power possessed by all the
prophets under the Old Testament dispensation, and by the apostles;
the other is the explanation of the Scriptures. "Greater is he that
prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues." 1 Cor 14, 5. Now, the
Gospel being the last prophetic message to be delivered previous to
the time of the judgment, and to predict the events of that period, I
presume Paul has reference here simply to that form of prophecy he
mentions in the fourteenth of First Corinthians--explanation of the
Scriptures. This form is common, ever prevails, and is profitable to
Christians; the other form is rare. That reference is to this form,
Paul implies in his words, "Let us prophesy according to the
proportion of faith." Doubtless he means the Christian faith then
arising. No other faith, no other doctrine, is to be introduced. Now,
when he says prophecy must be according to the proportion of faith, it
is plain enough he does not refer to the foretelling of future events.

18. The apostle's meaning, then, is: "They who have the gift of
Scripture explanation must be careful to explain in conformity with
the faith, and not to teach contrary to its principles." "Other
foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus
Christ." 1 Cor 3, 11. Let every man be careful not to build upon this
foundation with wood, hay, stubble--things unsuited to such a
foundation; let him build with gold, silver and precious stones.

Every doctrine, every explanation of the Scriptures, then, which leads
us to rely upon our own works, and produces false Christians and
self-righteous individuals, in the name of faith, is emphatically
condemned. Any doctrine that teaches we are to exterminate our sins,
to become happy and righteous and to obtain peace of conscience before
God, in any other way than through faith alone--without works--is not
in harmony with the Christian faith. For instance, all monastic life,
and the doctrine of racketing spirits from purgatory, are in conflict
with faith.

19. Paul, you will observe, does not attach so much importance to the
prediction of future events; for instance, the prophecies of
Lichtenberger, Joachim and others in these latter times. Such
predictions, though they may gratify the curiosity of men concerning
the fate of kings, princes and others of prominence in the world, are
unnecessary prophecies under the New Testament dispensation. They
neither teach the Christian faith nor contribute to its strength.
Hence this form of prophecy may be regarded as among the least of
God's gifts. More, it sometimes proceeds from the devil. But the
ability to explain the Scriptures is the noblest, the best, prophetic
gift. The Old Testament prophets derived their title to the name
chiefly because they prophesied concerning Christ--according to Peter
(Acts 4, 25 and 1 Pet 1, 10)--and because they led the people of their
day in the way of faith by explaining--giving the sense of--the divine
Word. These things had much more to do with their title than the fact
of their making occasional predictions concerning earthly kings and
temporal affairs. In general, they did not make such predictions. But
the first-mentioned form of prophecy they daily delivered, without
omission. The faith whereto their prophecies conformed is perpetual.

20. It is of much significance that Paul recognizes faith as the
controlling judge and rule in all matters of doctrine and prophecy. To
faith everything must bow. By faith must all doctrine be judged and
held. You see whom Paul would constitute doctors of the holy
Scriptures--men of faith and no others. These should be the judges and
deciders of all doctrines. Their decision should prevail, even though
it conflict with that of the Pope, of the councils, of the whole
world. Faith is and must be lord and God over all teachers. Note,
then, the conduct of the Church orders who failed to recognize faith's
right to judge, and assumed that prerogative themselves, accepting
only power, numbers and temporal rank. But you know Pope, councils and
all the world, with their doctrines, must yield authority to the most
insignificant Christian with faith, even though it be but a
seven-year-old child, and his decision of their doctrines and laws is
to be accepted. Christ commands us to take heed that we despise not
one of these little ones that believe in him. See Mt 18: 6, 10. Again,
he says (Jn 6, 45), "They shall all be taught of God." Now, it is
inconsistent to reject the judgment of him whom God himself teaches.
Rather, let all men hearken to him.

"Or ministry, let us give ourselves to our ministry."

21. The office of the ministry is the second gift of God the apostle
enumerates. With the early Christians the duties of this office were
to serve poor widows and orphans, distributing to them temporal goods.
Such were the duties of Stephen and his associates (Acts 6, 5), and
such should be the duties of the stewards and provosts in monasteries
today. Again, this was the office of those who ministered unto the
prophets and apostles, the preachers and teachers: for instance, the
women who followed Christ and served him with their substance; and
Onesimus, Titus, Timothy and others of Paul's disciples. They made all
necessary temporal provision, that the apostles and the preachers
might give themselves uninterruptedly to preaching, teaching and
prayer, and might be unencumbered with temporal affairs.

22. But things have changed, as we see. Now we have spiritual lords,
princes, kings, who neglect, not alone to preach and to pray, but also
to distribute temporal goods to the poor and the widow and the orphan.
Rather, they pervert the rightful substance of these to add to their
own pomp. They neither prophesy nor serve; yet they appropriate the
position and the name of minister, their purpose being to restrain and
persecute true preachers and servants, and to destroy Christianity
everywhere and spend its possessions to foster their own luxury.

"Or he that teacheth, to his teaching; or he that exhorteth, to his
exhorting."

23. We treated of these two gifts in the epistle lesson for Christmas
night. Tit 2. Teaching consists in instructing those unacquainted with
faith and the Christian life; exhortation, in inciting, arousing,
impelling, reproving and beseeching with all perseverance, those
having knowledge of the faith. We are enjoined (2 Tim 4, 2) to be
urgent, to "reprove, rebuke and exhort," that Christians may not grow
weary, indolent and negligent, as too often they do, knowing already
what is required of them. But prophecy must furnish the store of
information for the teachers and exhorters. Scripture expositors must
supply these latter. Prophesying, then, is the source of all doctrine
and exhortation.

"He that giveth, let him do it with liberality."

24. The mention here made of giving has reference to the fund
contributed into a common treasury, in charge of servants and
officers, for distribution among teachers, prophets, widows, orphans
and the poor generally, as before stated. This was according to an Old
Testament command. Beside the annual tithes, designed for the Levites,
special tithes were to be set aside every third year for the poor, the
widows and the orphans. There is no New Testament law for specific
giving, for this is the day of grace, wherein everyone is admonished
to give freely. Paul says (Gal 6, 6), "Let him that is taught in the
word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things." Again
(verse 10), "Let us work that which is good toward all men, and
especially toward them that are of the household of faith."

25. But giving is to be done with liberality--freely and gratuitously,
to the honor of God alone, with no intent to secure favor, honor or
profit; none shall dictate in the matter; and preference shall not be
shown in giving much to the amiable and nothing to the uncongenial, as
has been the case in the past in relation to the prebends and fiefs.
These were distributed according to friendship and favor; for the sake
of money, honor and profit. The same is true of nearly all paid
services in the matter of purgatory and hell. Freely, freely, we are
to give, being careful only that it be well pleasing to God and
bestowed according to necessity.

Paul, you will observe, frequently commends such liberality. It is
rarely manifest, however. True gifts are made beyond measure, but they
are unprofitable because not made with a free, liberal spirit; for
instance, contributions to monasteries and other institutions. Not
being given with liberality, God does not permit these gifts to be
used for Christian purposes. Given in an unchristian manner, they
must, in an unchristianlike way, be wasted; as Micah says (ch. 1, 7):
"Of the hire of a harlot hath she gathered them, and unto the hire of
a harlot shall they return." Reference is to spiritual
whoredom--unbelief--which never acts with liberality.

"He that ruleth, with diligence."

26. "Ruling," or overseeing, is to be understood as relating to the
common offices in the Christian Church. Paul is not speaking of
temporal rulers, as princes and heads of families, but of rulers in
the Church. He says (1 Tim 3, 5): "If a man knoweth not how to rule
his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?" He means
those who have oversight of Church officers generally; who take care
that teachers be diligent, that deacons and ministers make proper and
careful distribution of the finances, and that sinners are reproved
and disciplined; in short, who are responsible for the proper
execution of all offices. Such are the duties of a bishop. From their
office they receive the title of bishops--superintendents and
"Antistrites," as Paul here terms them; that is, overseers and rulers.

27. It is the especial duty of these to be concerned about others, not
about themselves; the latter care is forbidden rather than enjoined.
Mt 6, 25. Diligence in the connection in which it is used in the text,
is prompted by love and not by self-interest. It being the duty of a
bishop to readily assume oversight, to minister and control, and all
things being dependent upon him as the movements of team and wagon are
dependent upon the driver, the bishop has no time for indolence,
drowsiness and negligence. He must be attentive and diligent, even
though all others be slothful and careless. Were he inattentive and
unfaithful, the official duties of all the others would likewise be
badly executed. The result would be similar to that when the driver
lies asleep and allows the team to move at will. Under such
circumstances, to hope for good results is useless, especially
considering the dangerous roads wherein Christians must travel here,
among devils who would, in every twinkling of the eye, overthrow and
destroy them.

28. Why should Paul reverse the seemingly proper order? He does not
mention ruling first--give it precedence. He rather assigns to
prophecy the first place, making ministering, teaching, exhorting and
contributing follow successively, while ruling he places last or
sixth, among the common offices. Undoubtedly, the Spirit designed such
order in view of future abominations that should follow the devil's
establishment of tyranny and worldly dominion among Christians. This
is the case at present. Dominion occupies chief place. Everything in
Christendom must yield to the wantonness of tyranny. Prophecy,
ministry, teaching, exhortation, benevolence--all must give way to
tyranny. Nothing may interrupt its sway; it must not yield to
prophecy, teaching or any other office.

29. We must remember, however, that nothing takes precedence of the
Word of God. The preaching of it transcends all other offices.
Dominion is but a servant to arouse preaching to activity, like to the
servant who wakes his master from sleep, or in other ways reminds him
of his office. This principle confirms Christ's words (Lk 22, 26): "He
that is the greater among you, let him become as the younger; and he
that is chief, as he that doth serve." Teachers and prophets, however,
are to be obedient to rulers and continue subject to them; each
Christian work and office must subserve the others. Thus is carried
out Paul's doctrine in this epistle: that one should not esteem
himself better than others; should not exalt himself over men,
thinking of himself more highly than he ought to think; though one
gift or office is more honorable than another, yet it must also
subserve that other. While the office of ruler is the lowest, yet
every other appointment is subject to it; on the other hand, in care
and oversight the ruler serves all others. Again, the prophet, who
holds the highest office, submits to the ruler, etc.

"He that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness."

30. The six preceding obligations devolve upon the common governing
powers of the Christian Church--at present known as the ecclesiastical
order. Paul now proceeds to enumerate duties pertaining to every
member of the Church. The six first-mentioned obligations are not,
however, to be individualized to the extent of making but a single
obligation devolve upon one individual. He who prophesies may also
teach, admonish, serve and rule. And the same is true of each office.
Let every man discover unto how many offices he is called, and conduct
himself accordingly. He must not exalt himself over others, as if
better than they, and create sects from the common gifts of God; he
must continue in the common faith of his fellows, allowing mutual
service and subjection in the gifts.

31. "Mercy" implies all good deeds or benefits conferred by neighbors
upon one another, aside from the regular contributions of which we
have spoken. The Hebrew word the apostle uses for "mercy" is "hesed."
In Latin it is "beneficium"; in Greek, "eleemosyna"; and in common
parlance, "alms." It is in this sense that Christ employs the term
throughout the Gospel: "When thou doest alms" (Mt 6, 2)--that is, thy
good deeds, or favors; "I desire mercy, and not sacrifice" (Mt 12,
27); "He that showed mercy on him" (Lk 10, 37). And there are other
similar passages where the word "mercy" is equivalent to "benefit" or
"favor"; for instance (Mt 5, 7), "Blessed are the merciful."

32. Paul would say: "Let him who is himself so favored that he may
confer benefits upon others, do it cheerfully and with pleasure." He
declares (2 Cor 9, 7), "God loveth a cheerful giver." And he makes his
meaning clear by another portion of the same verse, "not grudgingly,
or of necessity." That is, the giver is not to twitter and tremble,
not to be slow and tardy in his giving, nor to seek everywhere for
reasons to withhold his gift. He is not to give in a way calculated to
spoil the recipient's enjoyment of the favor. Nor is he to delay until
the gift loses its sweetness because of the importunity required to
secure it; rather he should be ready and willing. Solomon says (Prov
3, 28): "Say not unto thy neighbor, Go, and come again, and to-morrow
I will give; when thou hast it by thee." "Bis dat qui cito dat." He
gives doubly who gives quickly. Again, "Tarda gratia non est gratia,"
A tardy favor is no favor. The word "hilaris" in this connection does
not imply joyful giving, but free, cheerful, willing and loving
generosity, a generosity moved by slight entreaty.


THE WORKS OF CHRIST'S MEMBERS.

"Let love be without hypocrisy."

33. How aptly the apostle points out the danger of error in each
obligation, as well as the right course! Prophecy is carried beyond
its proper sphere when it does not accord with the faith. This is the
danger-point in all prophecy. The common error in ministering lies in
the indolence manifested therein, and the constant preference for some
other occupation. Again, the prevailing error in teaching and
exhorting is in giving attention to something besides those
obligations; for instance, deceiving men with human nonsense. The
mistake in giving is that it is seldom done with liberality. Rulers
are prone to seek quiet and leisure, desiring to escape being burdened
with care and anxiety. Favors are seldom bestowed cheerfully and with
a willing heart. So, too, pure love is a rare thing on earth. Not that
love in itself is impure, but too often it is mere pretense. John
implies as much in his words (1 Jn 3, 18), "My little children, let us
not love in word, neither with the tongue; but in deed and truth."

34. Now, they who harbor hatred while pretending to love, or are
guilty of similar gross hypocrisies, fall far short of the spirit of
this teaching. But Paul refers to those of liberated conscience, who
conduct themselves like true Christians, well knowing how to teach
concerning Christ; but who are careless of their works, not realizing
that they neglect their neighbors and fail to assist the needy and to
rebuke the wicked; who are generally negligent, bringing forth none of
the fruits of faith; among whom the true Word of God is choked, like
seed among thorns, as Christ says. Mt 13, 22. But we have elsewhere
explained the nature of pure love.

"Abhor that which is evil."

35. While to abhor evil is one of the chief principles of love, it is
rare. The principle is too often lost sight of through hypocrisy and
false love. We ignore, wink at, even make light of and are undisturbed
by the evil deeds of our neighbor. We are unwilling to incur his
displeasure by manifesting indignation and offering rebuke for his
wickedness, or by withdrawing from his society. Especially do we
hesitate when we thus must endanger body or life; for instance, when
the vices of those in high life demand our censure. By such weakness
on our part we merely dissimulate love. Paul requires, not only a
secret abhorrence of evil, but an open manifestation of it in word and
deed. True love is not influenced by the closeness of the friend, by
the advantage of his favors, or by the standing of his connections;
nor is it influenced by the perverseness of an enemy. It abhors evil,
and censures it or flees from it, whether in father or mother, brother
or sister, or in any other. Corrupt nature loves itself and does not
abhor its own evil; rather, it covers and adorns it. Anger is styled
zeal; avarice is called prudence; and deception, wisdom.

"Cleave to that which is good."

36. The second feature of real, true love is that it cleaves to the
good, even though found in the worst enemy, and though directly
opposing love's desire. Love is no respecter of persons. It is not
intimidated by the possible danger its expression might incur. But
false love will dare, even for the sake of honor, profit or advantage,
to forsake the good in its friend, particularly when danger threatens
or persecution arises. Much less, then, will he whose love is false
cleave to the good in an enemy and stand by and maintain it. And if it
necessitated opposing his own interests, he would not support his
enemy's deed, however good. Briefly, the proverb, "The world is false
and full of infidelity," and that other saying, "Fair but empty
words," clearly express the fact that the love of our corrupt human
nature is false and hypocritical, and that where the Spirit of God
dwells not, there is no real, pure love. These two
principles--abhorring the evil and cleaving to the good--are clearly
presented in Psalm 15, 4: "In whose eyes a reprobate is despised, but
who honoreth them that fear Jehovah"--in other words, "Who cleaves to
the good, even though it be in an enemy; and hates the evil, even
though in a friend." Try men by these two principles in their lending,
their dealing and giving, reproving and teaching, tolerating and
suffering, and their dissimulation and hypocrisy will be readily
apparent.

"In love of the brethren be tenderly affectioned one to another."

37. Christians exhibit perfect love when, in addition to the love they
manifest toward all men, they are themselves united by a peculiar bond
of Christian affection. The term "tenderly affectioned" expresses the
love parents have for children, and brothers for each other. Paul
would say: "Christians are not simply to manifest a spirit of mutual
love, but they are to conduct themselves toward one another in a
tender, parental and brotherly way." Thus Paul boasts of doing in the
case of the people of Thessalonica. 1 Thes 1, 11. Isaiah declares (ch.
66, 13) that God will so comfort the apostles: "As one whom his mother
comforteth, so will I comfort you." And Peter says (1 Pet 3, 8):
"Loving as brethren, tenderhearted, humbleminded." The nature of the
brotherly love we owe our neighbors is illustrated in the love of an
affectionate mother for her child. Such love Christ has shown, and
still shows, toward us. He sustains us, frail, corrupt, sinful beings
that we are. So imperfect are we, we seem not Christians at all. But
the love of Christ makes us his, regardless of our imperfections.

"In honor preferring one another."

38. Christ's love and friendship for ourselves should lead us to
esteem one another precious. We should be dear to one another for the
sake of the Christ within us. We may not reject any because of his
imperfections. We must remember the Lord dwells in the weak vessel
also, and honors him with his presence. If Christ regards him worthy
of kindness and affection, and extends to him the same privilege in
himself that we enjoy, we should bow before that weak one, honoring
him as the living temple of our Lord, the seat of his presence. What
matters to us the insignificance of the seat the Lord chooses? If it
is not too humble to be honored with his presence, why should we his
servants not honor it?

"In diligence not slothful."

39. "Diligence" here implies every form of righteous work and business
that occupies us. Paul requires us to be diligent, skillful and
active. We are not to proceed as do they who undertake one thing
today, and tomorrow another, confining themselves to nothing and soon
growing weary and indolent. For instance, some readily and very
zealously engage in a good work, such as praying, reading, fasting,
giving, serving, disciplining the body. But after two or three
attempts they become indolent and fail to accomplish the undertaking.
Their ardor subsides with the gratification of their curiosity. Such
people become unstable and weak. So Paul enjoins to be

"Fervent in spirit."

40. A weak and somewhat curious disposition may undertake with fervor,
being ready to accomplish everything at once; but in the very start it
becomes faint and weak, and voluntarily yields. It becomes silent when
opposition, disaffection and persecution must be encountered. The
fervor that does not persevere in spiritual matters is carnal.
Spiritual fervor increases with undertaking and effort. It is the
nature of spirit not to know weariness. Spirit grows faint and weary
only by idleness. Laboring, it increases in strength. Particularly
does it gain in fervor through persecution and opposition. So it
perseveres, and accomplishes its projects, even though the gates of
hell oppose.

"Serving the Lord." (Adapt yourselves to the time.)

41. Some renderings read, "Serve the Lord," for in the Greek "Kairos"
and "Kyrios" sound much alike. One means "Time," the other "Lord." I
am undecided which is preferable. "Serve the time"--"adapt yourselves
to the time"--would be apt. And "Serve the Lord" would not be a bad
construction. Let each choose for himself. To serve the Lord means to
let all our acts be done as unto the Lord himself, in the effort to
serve him, not seeking our own honor, and not neglecting our duty for
fear of men or because of their favors; it means to follow the spirit
of Nehemiah's declaration when the temple was being built (Neh 2,
20)--We are servants of the God of Heaven. Such was the reply of the
Jews to those who attempted to hinder them. Practically, the Jews
said: "We do not serve ourselves. Our service is not designed for our
own honor, but for the honor of the God of Heaven." I shall, however,
adhere to the rendering, "Adapt yourselves to the time." It is
equivalent to saying: Direct yourselves according to the time. That
is, employ it well; be seasonable, in keeping with Solomon's words (Ec
3, 3-4): "A time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to
weep, and a time to laugh," etc. There is a time for everything. The
thought is, Exercise your privileges, confining yourself to no
particular time; be able to do the duty that presents itself, as Psalm
1, 3 suggests: "He shall be like a tree ... that bringeth forth its
fruit in its season."

42. This valuable and excellent doctrine militates against the
self-righteous, who confine themselves to set times, to the extent of
making the time conform to them and adapt itself to their convenience.
They observe particular hours for praying, for eating, for drinking.
Should you, in dire need of aid, approach one of them, you might
perish before he would disengage himself to assist you.

Note, the self-righteous man does not adapt himself to the time--does
not rise to the occasion as he should. The opportunity to perform a
work of love, he permits to pass. The time must be suited to
him--which will never be. No opportunity to do good ever presents
itself to this class, for they are so absorbed in themselves as to
permit every such occasion to pass. Nor are they seasonable in things
concerning themselves. They laugh when they should weep; they are
gloomy when they should rejoice; they flatter when censure is due. All
their efforts are untimely. It is their fortune to miss every
opportunity in consequence of confining their endeavors to certain
times. This is the way of the world.

"Rejoicing in hope."

43. Here is an occasion, truly, when we should be timely. The ungodly
rejoice when satiate with wealth, honor and ease, but are filled with
gloom at a change in the weather. Their joy is untimely as well as
their grief. They rejoice when they should grieve, and grieve when
they should rejoice. But Christians are capable of rejoicing, not in
ease and temporal advantage, but in God. They rejoice most when their
worldly condition is worst. The farther earthly advantages are
removed, the nearer is God with his eternal blessings. Paul enumerates
joy among the fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5, 22); the flesh knows not
such pleasure. In Romans 14, 17, he speaks of "joy in the Holy
Spirit."

"Patient in tribulation."

44. Throughout the Gospel we are taught that Christians must endure
crosses and evil days. Hence the Gospel arms us with divine armor, and
that alone. That is, it teaches us, not how to avert temporal ills and
to enjoy peace, but how to endure and conquer these ills. We are not
to oppose and try to avert them, but patiently to endure them until
they wear themselves out upon us, and lose their power; as ocean
waves, dashing against the shore, recede and vanish of their own
accord. Not yielding, but perseverence, shall win here. But of this
topic we have treated during the Advent season.

"Continuing stedfastly in prayer."

45. Prayer has been sufficiently defined in the third epistle for
Advent. Paul does not allude to babbling out of prayer-books, nor to
bawling in the Church. You will never offer true prayer from a book.
To be sure, you may, by reading a prayer, learn how and what to pray,
and have your devotion enkindled; but real prayer must proceed
spontaneously from the heart, not in prescribed words; the language
must be dictated by the fervor of the soul. Paul particularly
specifies that we are to be "stedfast in prayer." In other words, we
should not become remiss, even though we do not immediately receive
what we ask. The chief thing in prayer is faith. Faith relies on God's
promise to hear its petition. It may not receive at once what it is
confident of receiving; but it waits, and though for a time there may
be indications of failure, yet the petition is granted. Christ gives
striking illustrations of such perseverence in the parable of the
wicked judge (Lk 18), and in that of the friend's importunity (Lk 11).
He everywhere teaches the necessity of faith in prayer. "Whatsoever ye
shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive," Mt 21, 22. And
again, "Or what man is there of you, who, if his son shall ask him for
a loaf, will give him a stone?" Mt 7, 9.

"Communicating to the necessities of the saints."

46. The meaning of this injunction is shamefully perverted. In our
necessities we daily seek the assistance of saints. Hence the numerous
institutions, altars and services to these, everywhere in the world.
Paul's teaching, however, is that we are to "communicate to the
necessity of the saints." Since we ignore the sanctified ones of this
life who need our assistance, we are well rewarded by having to go to
the dead to solicit aid in our necessities. Paul means the saints on
earth--the Christians. He calls them saints out of respect to the Word
of God and his grace, which, in faith, renders them holy without
works.

47. It would be a great shame, a blasphemy, for a Christian to deny
that he is holy. It would be equivalent to denying the holiness of the
blood of Christ, of the Word, the Spirit, the grace of God, and of God
himself. And all these God has applied to or conferred upon the
Christian to render him holy. Paul does not hesitate to call himself a
saint (Eph 3, 8): "Unto me who am less than the least of all saints,
was this grace given." And (1 Tim 5, 10) he would relieve widows who
washed the feet of the saints. It is also said in Psalm 86, 2,
"Preserve my soul; for I am godly [holy]." Peter, too (1 Pet 1, 16),
quoting from Moses, speaks God's message, "Ye shall be holy; for I am
holy." The word "holy" in the Scriptures has reference only to the
living.

But we have had books other than the Scriptures to read. Consequently
we have been led by our seducers into the humiliating wickedness of
calling holy only the dead, and regarding it the highest presumption
to apply the term to ourselves. At the same time we are all desirous
of being called "Christians," a sublimer title than "holy"; for Christ
is perfect holiness, and Christians are named after Christ--after
perfect holiness. The shameful abomination known as "the exaltation of
saints" is responsible for the deplorable error here. The Pope's
influence has created the belief that only they are holy who are dead,
or whose works have exalted them to the honor of the title. But how
often is the devil exalted as a saint, and how often we regard them
saints who are of hell!

48. Paul's design in mentioning "the necessities of the saints" is to
teach and move us to do as much for Christians as we are inclined to
do for the saints of heaven; to regard such ministration as precious
service, for so it is. He commends to us the real saints--those in
want; who are of saintly character, though they may be forsaken,
hungry, naked, imprisoned, half-dead, regarded by the world as ungodly
evil-doers deserving of every form of misfortune; who, unable to help
themselves, need assistance. They differ much from those saints whose
help we, staring heavenward, implore. It is the poor Christians whom
Christ will array on the last day, saying, "Inasmuch as ye did it unto
one of these my brethren, even these least, ye did it unto me." Mt 25,
40. Then they who so ostentatiously served the blessed of heaven must
stand shamed and afraid in the presence of those whom in this life
they scorned to respect as they should. Nor will the saints whom they
bound themselves to serve, and whom they worshiped, avail them
anything.

"Given to hospitality."

49. Now, Paul specifies concerning the "necessities of the saints" and
names the treatment to be accorded them. Not only in word are we to
remember them, but in deed, extending hospitality as their necessities
demand. "Hospitality" stands for every form of physical aid when
occasion calls for it--feeding the hungry, giving drink to the
thirsty, clothing the naked. In the early days of the Gospel, the
apostles and disciples did not sit in palaces, cloisters,
institutions, and torture the people with edicts and commands as do
the idolatrous bishops today. Pilgrim-like, they went about the
country, having no house nor home, no kitchen nor cellar, no
particular abiding-place. It was necessary that everywhere hospitality
be extended the saints, and service rendered them, that the Gospel
might be preached. This was as essential as giving assistance in their
distresses and sufferings.

"Bless them that persecute you."

50. Incidental to the subject of the saints' necessities, the apostle
reminds us we are to conduct ourselves in a Christian manner toward
our persecutors, who, to great extent, are to blame for the distresses
of the saints. It is well to observe here that we are not merely
advised, but commanded, to love our enemies, to do them good and to
speak well of them; such conduct is the fruit of the Spirit. We must
not believe what we have heretofore been taught--that the admonition
comes only to the perfect, and that they are merely counseled to bless
their persecutors. Christ teaches (Mt 5, 44) that all Christians are
commanded so to do. And to "bless" our persecutors means to desire for
them only good in body and soul. For instance, if an enemy detracts
from our honor, we should respond, "God honor you and keep you from
disgrace." Or if one infringe upon our rights, we ought to say, "May
God bless and prosper you." On this wise should we do.

"Bless, and curse not."

51. This is to be our attitude toward mankind generally, whether
persecutors or otherwise. The meaning is: "Not only bless your
persecutors, but live without curses for any, with blessings for all;
wishing no one evil, but everyone only good." For we are children of
blessing; as Peter says: "Hereunto were ye called, that ye should
inherit a blessing." 1 Pet 3, 9. In our blessing, all the world is
blessed--through Christ. "In thy seed shall all the nations of the
earth be blessed." Gen 22, 18. It is inconsistent for a Christian to
curse even his most bitter enemy and an evil-doer; for he is commanded
to bear upon his lips the Gospel. The dove did not bring to Noah in
the ark a poisonous branch or a thistle sprig; she brought an
olive-leaf in her mouth. Gen 8, 11. The Gospel likewise is simply a
gracious, blessed, glad and healing word. It brings only blessing and
grace to the whole world. No curse, but pure blessing, goes with the
Gospel. The Christian's lips, then, must be lips of blessing, not of
cursing. If they curse, they are not the lips of a Christian.

52. It is necessary, however, to distinguish between cursing and
censuring or reproving. Reproof and punishment greatly differ from
cursing and malediction. To curse means to invoke evil, while
censuring carries the thought of displeasure at existing evil, and an
effort to remove it. In fact, cursing and censuring are opposed.
Cursing invokes evil and misfortune; censure aims to remove them.
Christ himself censured, or reproved. He called the Jews a generation
of vipers, children of the devil, hypocrites, blind dolts, liars, and
so on. He did not curse them to perpetuate their evils; rather he
desired the evils removed. Paul does similarly. He says of the
sorcerer that he is a child of the devil and full of subtilty. Acts
13, 10. Again, the Spirit reproves the world of sin. Jn 16, 8.

53. But the strong argument is here urged that the saints of the
Scriptures not only censured, but cursed. Jacob, the patriarch, cursed
his sons Reuben, Simeon and Levi. Gen 49, 7. A great part of the Law
of Moses is made up of curses, especially Deut 28, 15. Open cursing is
commanded to be pronounced by the people, on Mount Ebal. Deut 27, 13.
How much cursing we find in the Psalms, particularly Psalm 109. Again,
how David cursed Joab, captain of his host! 2 Sam 3, 29. How bitterly
Peter curses Simon (Acts 8, 20): "Thy silver perish with thee." Paul
curses the seducers of the Galatians (Gal 5, 12), "I would they were
even cut off." And he says (1 Cor 16, 22), "If any man loveth not the
Lord, let him be anathema." Christ cursed the innocent fig-tree. Mt
21, 19. And Elisha cursed the children of Bethel. 2 Kings 2, 24. What
shall we say to these things?

54. I answer: We must distinguish between love and faith. Love must
not curse; it must always bless. But faith has power to curse. Faith
makes us children of God, and is to us in God's place. Love makes us
servants of men, and occupies the place of a servant. Without the
Spirit's direction, no one can rightly understand and imitate such
examples of cursing. Cursing stands opposed to cursing--the curses of
God to the curses of the devil. When the devil, through his followers,
resists, destroys, obstructs, the Word of God--the channel of the
blessing--the blessing is impeded, and in God's sight a curse rests
upon the blessing. Then it is the office of faith to come out with a
curse, desiring the removal of the obstruction that God's blessing may
be unhindered.

55. Were one, with imprecation, to invoke God to root out and destroy
popery--the order of priests, monks and nuns, together with the
cloisters and other institutions, the whole world might well say,
Amen. For these the devil's devices curse, condemn and impede
everywhere God's Word and his blessing. These things are evils so
pernicious, so diabolical, they do not merit our love. The more we
serve the ecclesiasts and the more we yield to them, the more obdurate
they become. They rant and rage against the Word of God and the
Spirit, against faith and love. Such conduct Christ calls
blasphemy--sin--against the Holy Spirit--unpardonable sin. Mt 12, 31.
And John says (1 Jn 5, 16), "There is a sin unto death; not concerning
this do I say that he should make request." With the ecclesiasts all
is lost. They will not accept any love or assistance which does not
leave them in their wickedness, does not strengthen and help--even
honor and exalt--them in it. Any effort you may make otherwise will
but cause them to rage against the Holy Spirit, to blaspheme and curse
your teaching, declaring: "It proceeds not from love and fidelity to
God, but from the hate, the malice, of the devil. It is not the Word
of God, but falsehood. It is the devil's heresy and error."

56. In fact, cursing which contributes only to the service of God is a
work of the Holy Spirit. It is enjoined in the first commandment, and
is independent of and superior to love. Until God commands us to do a
certain good work or to manifest our love toward our neighbor, we are
under no obligation so to do. His will transcends all the good works
we can do, all the love we can show our neighbor. Even if I could save
the entire world in a single day and it were not God's will I should,
I would have no right to do it. Therefore, I should not bless, should
not perform a good work, should not manifest my love to any, unless it
be consistent with the will and command of God. The measure of our
love to our neighbors is the Word of God. Likewise, by the first
commandment all other commandments are to be measured. We might, in
direct violation of the commandments of the second table, were it
consistent with God's will and promotive of his honor, obey the first
commandment in killing, robbing, taking captive women and children and
disobeying father and mother, as did the children of Israel in the
case of their heathen enemies. Likewise the Holy Spirit is able to,
and does at times, perform works seemingly opposed to all the
commandments of God. While apparently there is violation in some
respects, it is in reality only of the commandments of the second
table, concerning our neighbor. The Spirit's works are in conformity
with the first three commandments of the first table, relating to God.
Therefore, if you first become a Peter, a Paul, a Jacob, a David, an
Elisha, you too may curse in God's name, and with exalted merit in his
sight.

"Rejoice with them that rejoice; weep with them that weep."

57. There may be a direct connection between these two commands and
the injunction about "communicating to the necessities of the saints"
upon which Paul has been expatiating, teaching how we are to treat our
persecutors, who are largely to blame for the "necessities" of
Christians. Yet I am inclined to think he speaks here in an unrelated
way, of our duty to make ourselves agreeable to all men, to adapt
ourselves to their circumstances, whether good or ill, whether or no
they are in want. As common servants, we should minister to mankind in
their every condition, that we may persuade them to accept the Gospel.
Paul speaks further on this point.

58. Now, if a fellow-man have reason to rejoice, it is not for us to
put on a stern countenance, as do the hypocrites, who assume to be
somewhat peculiar. Their unnatural seriousness is meant to be
indicative of their unrivaled wisdom and holiness, and of the fact
that men who rejoice instead of wearing, as they do, a stern look, are
fools and sinners. But no, we are to participate in the joy of our
fellow-man when that joy is not inconsistent with the will of God. For
instance, we should rejoice with the father who joys in the piety and
sweetness of his wife, in her health and fruitfulness, and in the
obedience and intelligence of his children; and when he is as well off
as we are so far as soul, body and character, family and property, are
concerned. These are gifts of God. According to Paul (Acts 14, 17),
they are given that God may fill our hearts "with food and gladness."
Though many such gifts and pleasures are improperly used, they are
nevertheless the gifts of God and not to be rejected with a gloomy
face as if we dare not, or should not, enjoy them. On the other hand,
we ought to weep with our fellow-man when he is in sad circumstances,
as we would weep over our own unhappy condition. We read (2 Sam 1, 17;
3, 33) that David lamented for Saul, Jonathan and Abner, and (Phil 2,
27) that Paul was filled with sorrow over the illness of Epaphroditus
and grieved as if the affliction were his own.

"Be of the same mind one toward another."

59. The apostle has previously (verse 10) spoken concerning unity of
mind in relation to God-ordained spiritual gifts, counseling that
everyone should be content as to the offices and gifts of his fellows.
Now Paul speaks of the temporal affairs of men, teaching likewise
mutual appreciation of one another's calling and character, offices
and works, and that none is to esteem himself better than another
because of these. The shoemaker's apprentice has the same Christ with
the prince or the king; the woman, the same Christ the man has. While
there are various occupations and external distinctions among men,
there is but one faith and one Spirit.

60. But this doctrine of Paul has long been dishonored. Princes,
lords, nobles, the rich and the powerful, reflect themselves in
themselves, thinking they are the only men on earth. Even among their
own ranks, one aspires to be more exalted, more noble and upright,
than another. Their notions and opinions are almost as diverse as the
clouds of heaven. They are not of the same mind concerning external
distinctions. One does not esteem another's condition and occupation
as significant and as honorable as his own. The individual sentiment
apparently is: "My station is the best; all others are revolting."

The clumsy, booted peasant enters the strife. The baker aspires to be
better than the barber; the shoemaker, than the bath-keeper. Should
one happen to be illegitimately born, he is not eligible to a trade,
though he even be holy. Certificates of legitimate birth must be
produced, and such is the complex state of society, there are as many
beliefs as masters and servants. How can there be unity of mind
concerning spiritual offices and blessings with people so at variance
upon trivial, contemptible worldly matters? True, there must be the
various earthly stations, characters and employments; but it is
heathenish, unchristian and worldly for one to entertain the absurd
idea that God regards a certain individual a better Christian than
another upon the contemptible grounds of his temporal station, and not
to perceive that in God's sight these conditions make no inner
difference.

61. Indeed, it is not only unchristian, but effeminate and childish,
to hold such a view. A woman will win distinction for herself by
handling the spindle or the needle more deftly than another, or by
adjusting her bonnet more becomingly than her neighbor can; in fact,
she may secure prominence by things even more insignificant. To say
the least, no woman thinks herself less a woman than any other. The
same is true of children; each is best satisfied with its own bread
and butter, and thinks its own toy the prettiest; if it does not, it
will cry until it gets its prettiest.

And so it is with the world: one has more power, another is a better
Christian, another is more illustrious; one has more learning, another
is more respectable; one is of this lineage, another that. These
distinctions are the source of hatred, murder and every form of evil,
so tenaciously does each individual adhere to his own notions. Yet,
despite their separate and dissimilar opinions, men call themselves
Christians.

"Set not your mind on high things."

62. Here Paul makes clear the preceding injunction. He would restrain
men from their unholy conceits. As before stated, every man is best
pleased with his own ideas. Hence foolishness pervades the land. One,
seeing another honored above himself, is restlessly ambitious to
emulate that other. But he acts contrary to both teachings of Paul:
Comparing himself to his inferiors or to his equals, he thinks he is
far above them, and his own station most honorable. Comparing himself
with his superiors, he sees his pretended rank fail; hence he strives
to rival them, devoting all his energies to attain the enviable
position. Clinging to external distinctions, his changing notions and
unstable heart impel him to such ambition and render him dissatisfied
with the Christ whom all men possess alike.

But what does Paul teach? Not so. He says, "Set not your mind on what
the world values." His meaning is: "Distinctions truly must there be
in this life--one thing high, another low. Everything cannot be gold,
nor can all things be straw. Nevertheless, among men there should be
unity of mind in this relation." God treats men alike. He gives his
Word and his Spirit to the lowly as well as to the high. Paul does not
use the little word "mind" undesignedly. "High things" have their
place and they are not pernicious. But to "mind" them, to be absorbed
in them with the whole heart, to be puffed up with conceit because of
our relation to them, enjoying them to the disadvantage of the less
favored--this is heathenish.

"But condescend to things that are lowly."

63. In other words: Despise not lowly stations and characters. Say
not, they must either be exalted or removed. God uses them; indeed,
the world cannot dispense with them. Where would the wealthy and
powerful be if there were no poor and humble? As the feet support the
body, so the low support the high. The higher class, then, should
conduct themselves toward the lowly as the body holds itself with
relation to the feet; not "minding," or regarding, their lofty
station, but conforming to and recognizing with favor the station of
the lowly. Legal equality is here made a figure of spiritual
things--concerning the aspirations of the heart. Christ conducted
himself with humility. He did not deny his own exaltation, but neither
was he haughty toward us by reason of it. He did not despise us, but
stooped to our wretched condition and raised us by means of his own
exalted position.



_Third Sunday After Epiphany_

Text: Romans 12, 16-21.

16 Be not wise in your own conceits. 17 Render to no man evil for
evil. Take thought for things honorable in the sight of all men. 18 If
it be possible, as much as in you lieth, be at peace with all men. 19
Avenge not yourselves, beloved, but give place unto the wrath of God:
for it is written, Vengeance belongeth unto me; I will recompense,
saith the Lord. 20 But if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst,
give him to drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire upon
his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.


CHRISTIAN REVENGE.[1]

[Footnote 1: This and the last sermon are one in some editions. Hence
the paragraphs are numbered as one sermon.]

"Be not wise in your own conceits."

64. The lesson as read in the Church ends here. We shall, therefore,
notice but briefly the remaining portion. "Conceits," as here used,
signifies the obstinate attitude with regard to temporal things which
is maintained by that individual who is unwilling to be instructed,
who himself knows best in all things, who yields to no one and calls
good whatever harmonizes with his ideas. The Christian should be more
willing to make concession in temporal affairs. Let him not be
contentious, but rather yielding, since the Word of God and faith are
not involved, it being only a question of personal honor, of friends
and of worldly things.

"Render to no man evil for evil."

65. In the counsel above (verse 14) to "curse not," the writer of the
epistle has in mind those unable to avenge themselves, or to return
evil for evil. These have no alternative but to curse, to invoke evil
upon their oppressors. In this instance, however, the reference is to
those who have equal power to render one another evil for evil, malice
for malice, whether by acts committed or omitted--and usually they are
omitted. But the Christian should render good for evil, and omit not.
God suffers his sun to shine upon the evil and upon the good. Mt 5,
45.

"Take thought for things honorable in the sight of all men."

66. This injunction is similar to that he gives the Thessalonians (1
Thes 5, 22), "Abstain from all appearance of evil"; and the
Philippians (ch. 4, 8): "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things
are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure,
whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if
there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these
things." The reference is purely to our outward conduct. Paul would
not have the Christian think himself at liberty to do his own
pleasure, regardless of others' approbation. Only in the things of
faith is such the Christian's privilege. His outward conduct should be
irreproachable, acceptable to all men; in keeping with the teaching of
first Corinthians, 10, 32-33, to please all men, giving offense
neither to Jews nor to Gentiles; and obedient to Peter's advice (1 Pet
2, 12), "Having your behavior seemly among the Gentiles."

"If it be possible, as much as in you lieth, be at peace with all
men."

67. Outward peace among men is here intended--peace with Christians
and heathen, with the godly and the wicked, the high and the low. We
must give no occasion for strife; rather, we are to endure every ill
patiently, never permitting peace to be disturbed on our account. We
must not return evil for evil, blow for blow; for he who so does,
gives rise to contention. Paul adds, "As much as in you lieth." We are
to avoid injuring any, lest we be the ones to occasion contention. We
must extend friendliness to all men, even though they be not friendly
to us. It is impossible to maintain peace at all times. The saying is,
"I can continue in peace only so long as my neighbor is willing." But
it lies in our power to leave others at peace, friends and foes, and
to endure the contentions of all. "Oh yes," you say, "but where would
we be then?" Listen:

"Avenge not yourselves, beloved, but give place unto the wrath of God:
for it is written, Vengeance belongeth unto me; I will recompense,
saith the Lord."

68. Note, in forbidding us to return blow for blow and to resort to
vengeance, the apostle implies that our enjoyment of peace depends on
our quiet endurance of others' disturbance. He not only gives us
assurance that we shall be avenged, but he intimidates us from
usurping the office of God, to whom alone belong vengeance and
retribution. Indeed, he rather deplores the fate of the Christian's
enemies, who expose themselves to God's wrath; he would move us to
pity them in view of the fact that we must give place to wrath and
permit them to fall into the hands of God.

The vengeance and wrath of God are dispensed in various ways: through
the instrumentality of political government; at the hands of the
devil; by illness, hunger and pestilence; by fire and water; by war,
enmity, disgrace; and by every possible kind of misfortune on earth.
Every creature may serve as the rod and the weapon of God when he
designs chastisement. As said in Wisdom of Solomon, 5, 17: "He shall
... make the creature his weapon for the revenge of his enemies."

69. So Paul says, "Give place unto wrath." I have inserted the words
"of God" to make clearer the meaning of the text; the wrath of God is
intended, and not the wrath of man. The thought is not of giving place
to the anger of our enemies. True, there may be occasion even for
that, but Paul has not reference here to man's anger. Evidently, he
means misfortunes and plagues, which are regarded as expressions of
God's wrath. Possibly the apostle omitted the phrase to avoid giving
the idea that only the final wrath of God is meant--his anger at the
last day, when he will inflict punishment without instrumentality.
Paul would include here all wrath, whether temporal or eternal, to
which God gives expression in his chastisements. This is an Old
Testament way of speaking. Phinehas says (Jos 22, 18), "To-morrow he
will be wroth with ... Israel." And Moses in several places speaks of
God's anger being kindled. See Numbers 11: 1, 10, 33. I mention these
things by way of teaching that when the political government wields
the sword of punishment against its enemies, it should be regarded as
an expression of God's wrath; and that the statement in Deuteronomy
32, 35, "Vengeance is mine," does not refer solely to punishment
inflicted of God direct, without instrumentality.

"But if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him to drink;
for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head."

70. This teaching endorses what I have already stated--that the
Christian's enemies are to be pitied in that they are subjected to the
wrath of God. Consequently it is not Christian-like to injure them;
rather, we should extend favors. Paul here introduces a quotation from
Solomon. Prov 25, 21-22. Heaping coals of fire on the head, to my
thought, implies conferring favors upon the enemy. Being enkindled by
our kindness, he ultimately becomes displeased with himself and more
kindly disposed to us. Coals here are benefits, or favors. Coals in
the censer likewise stand for the favors, or blessings, of God; they
are a type of our prayers, which should rise with fervor. Some say
that coals represent the Law and judgments of God (see Psalm 18, 8,
"Coals were kindled by it"), reasoning that in consequence of the
Christian's favors, his enemy is constrained to censure himself and to
feel the weight of God's Law and his judgments. I do not think a
Christian should desire punishment to fall upon his enemy, though such
explanation of the sentence is not inapt. In fact, it rather accords
with the injunction, "Give place unto wrath"; that is, do good and
then wrath--the coals--will readily fall upon the enemy.

"Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."

71. With this concluding counsel, it strikes me, Paul himself explains
the phrase "coals of fire" in harmony with the first idea--that the
malice of an enemy is to be overcome with good. Overcoming by force is
equivalent to lending yourself to evil and wronging the enemy who
wrongs you. By such a course your enemy overcomes you and you are made
evil like himself. But if you overcome him with good, he will be made
righteous like you. A spiritual overcoming is here meant; the
disposition, the heart, the soul--yes, the devil who instigates the
evil--are overcome.



_Fourth Sunday After Epiphany_

Text: Romans 13, 8-10.

8 Owe no man anything, save to love one another: for he that loveth
his neighbor hath fulfilled the law. 9 For this, Thou shalt not commit
adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not
covet, and if there be any other commandment, it is summed up in this
word, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 10 Love worketh
no ill to his neighbor; love therefore is the fulfilment of the law.


CHRISTIAN LOVE AND THE COMMAND TO LOVE.

1. This, like the two preceding epistle lessons, is admonitory, and
directs our attention to the fruits of faith. Here, however, Paul sums
up briefly all the fruits of faith, in love. In the verses going
before he enjoined subjection to temporal government--the rendering of
tribute, custom, fear and honor wherever due--since all governmental
power is ordained of God. Then follows our lesson: "Owe no man
anything," etc.

2. I shall ignore the various explanations usually invented for this
command, "Owe no man anything, but to love one another." To me,
clearly and simply it means: Not as men, but as Christians, are we
under obligations. Our indebtedness should be the free obligation of
love. It should not be compulsory and law-prescribed. Paul holds up
two forms of obligation: one is inspired by law, the other by love.

Legal obligations make us debtors to men; an instance is when one
individual has a claim upon another for debt. The duties and tribute,
the obedience and honor, we owe to political government are of this
legal character. Though personally these things are not essential to
the Christian--they do not justify him nor make him more
righteous--yet, because he must live here on earth, he is under
obligation, so far as outward conduct is concerned, to put himself on
a level with other men in these things, and generally to help maintain
temporal order and peace. Christ paid tribute money as a debt (Mt 17,
27), notwithstanding he had told Peter he was under no obligation to
do so and would have committed no sin before God in omitting the act.

3. Another obligation is love, when a Christian voluntarily makes
himself a servant of all men. Paul says (1 Cor 9, 19), "For though I
was free from all men, I brought myself under bondage to all." This is
not a requirement of human laws; no one who fails in this duty is
censured or punished for neglect of legal obligations. The world is
not aware of the commandment to love; of the obligation to submit to
and serve a fellow-man. This fact is very apparent. Let one have
wealth, and so long as he refrains from disgracing his neighbor's
wife, from appropriating his neighbor's goods, sullying his honor or
injuring his person, he is, in the eyes of the law, righteous. No law
punishes him for avarice and penuriousness; for refusing to lend, to
give, to aid, and to help his wronged neighbor secure justice. Laws
made for restraint of the outward man are directed only toward evil
works, which they prohibit and punish. Good works are left to
voluntary performance. Civil law does not extort them by threats and
punishment, but commends and rewards them, as does the Law of Moses.

4. Paul would teach Christians to so conduct themselves toward men and
civil authority as to give no occasion for complaint or censure
because of unfulfilled indebtedness to temporal law. He would not have
them fail to satisfy the claims of legal obligation, but rather to go
beyond its requirements, making themselves debtors voluntarily and
serving those who have no claims on them. Relative to this topic, Paul
says (Rom 1, 14), "I am debtor both to Greeks and to Barbarians."
Love's obligation enables a man to do more than is actually required
of him. Hence the Christian always willingly renders to the state and
to the individual all service exacted by temporal regulations,
permitting no claims upon himself in this respect.

5. Paul's injunction, then, might be expressed: Owe all men, that you
may owe none; owe everything, that you may owe nothing. This sounds
paradoxical. But one indebtedness is that of love, an obligation to
God. The other is indebtedness to temporal law, an obligation in the
eyes of the world. He who makes himself a servant, who takes upon
himself love's obligation to all men, goes so far that no one dares
complain of omission; indeed, he goes farther than any could desire.
Thus he is made free. He lives under obligation to no one from the
very fact that he puts himself under obligation to all. This manner of
presenting the thought would be sustained by the Spirit in connection
with other duties; for instance: Do no good work, that you may do only
good works. Never be pious and holy, if you would be always pious and
holy. As Paul says (ch. 12, 16), "Be not wise in your own conceits";
or (1 Cor 3, 18), "If any man thinketh that he is wise among you in
this world, let him become a fool, that he may become wise." It is in
this sense we say: Owe all men that you may owe no man; or, "Owe no
man anything, but to love one another."

6. Such counsel is given with the thought of the two obligations. He
who would perform works truly good in the sight of God, must guard
against works seemingly brilliant in the eyes of the world, works
whereby men presume to become righteous. He who desires to be
righteous and holy must guard against the holiness attained by works
without faith. Again, the seeker for wisdom must reject the wisdom of
men, of nature, wisdom independent of the Spirit. Similarly, he who
would be under obligation to none must obligate himself to all in
every respect. So doing, he retains no claim of his own. Consequently,
he soon rises superior to all law, for law binds only those who have
claims of their own. Rightly is it said, "Qui cedit omnibus bonis,
omnibus satisfecit," "He who surrenders all his property, satisfies
all men." How can one be under obligation when he does not, and
cannot, possess anything? It is love's way to give all. The best way,
then, to be under obligation to none is, through love to obligate
one's self in every respect to all men. In this sense it may be said:
If you would live, die; if you would not be imprisoned, incarcerate
yourself; if you do not desire to go to hell, descend there; if you
object to being a sinner, be a sinner; if you would escape the cross,
take it upon yourself; if you would conquer the devil, let him
vanquish you; would you overcome a wicked individual, permit him to
overcome you. The meaning of it all is, we should readily submit to
God, to the devil and to men, and willingly permit their pleasure; we
are to insist on nothing, but to accept all things as they transpire.
This is why Paul speaks as he does, "Owe no man anything," etc.,
instead of letting it go at the preceding injunction in verse 5,
"Render therefore to all their dues," etc.


LOVE FULFILS THE LAW.

"For he that loveth his neighbor hath fulfilled the law."

7. Having frequently spoken of the character and fruits of love, it is
unnecessary to introduce the subject here. The topic is sufficiently
treated in the epistle lesson for the Sunday preceding Lent. We will
look at the command to love, in the Law of God. Innumerable, endless,
are the books and doctrines produced for the direction of man's
conduct. And there is still no limit to the making of books and laws.
Note the ecclesiastical and civil regulations, the spiritual orders
and stations. These laws and doctrines might be tolerated, might be
received with more favor, if they were founded upon and administered
according to the one great law--the one rule or measure--of love; as
the Scriptures do, which present many different laws, but all born of
love, and comprehended in and subject to it. And these laws must
yield, must become invalid, when they conflict with love.

Of Love's higher authority we find many illustrations in the
Scriptures. Christ makes particular mention of the matter in Matthew
12, 3-4, where David and his companions ate the holy showbread. Though
a certain law prohibited all but the priests from partaking of this
holy food, Love was empress here, and free. Love was over the Law,
subjecting it to herself. The Law had to yield for the time being, had
to become invalid, when David suffered hunger. The Law had to submit
to the sentence: "David hungers and must be relieved, for Love
commands, Do good to your needy neighbor. Yield, therefore, thou Law.
Prevent not the accomplishment of this good. Rather accomplish it
thyself. Serve him in his need. Interpose not thy prohibitions." In
connection with this same incident, Christ teaches that we are to do
good to our neighbor on the Sabbath; to minister as necessity demands,
whatever the Sabbath restrictions of the Law. For when a brother's
need calls, Love is authority and the Law of the Sabbath is void.

8. Were laws conceived and administered in love, the number of laws
would matter little. Though one might not hear or learn all of them,
he would learn from the one or two he had knowledge of, the principle
of love taught in all. And though he were to know all laws, he might
not discover the principle of love any more readily than he would in
one. Paul teaches this method of understanding and mastering law when
he says: "Owe no man anything, but to love one another"; "He that
loveth another hath fulfilled the law"; "If there be any other
commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou
shalt love thy neighbor as thyself"; "Love worketh no ill to his
neighbor"; "Love is the fulfilling of the law." Every word in this
epistle lesson proves Love mistress of all law.

9. Further, no greater calamity, wrong and wretchedness is possible on
earth than the teaching and enforcing of laws without love. In such
case, laws are but a ruinous curse, making true the proverbs, "summum
jus, summa injustitia," "The most strenuous right is the most
strenuous wrong"; and again, Solomon's words (Ec 7, 17), "Noli nimium
esse justus," "Be not righteous overmuch." Here is where we leave
unperceived the beam in our own eye and proceed to remove the mote
from our neighbor's eye. Laws without love make the conscience timid
and fill it with unreasonable terror and despair, to the great injury
of body and soul. Thus, much trouble and labor are incurred all to no
purpose.

10. An illustration in point is the before-mentioned incident of David
in his hunger. 1 Sam 21, 6. Had the priest been disposed to refuse
David the holy bread, had he blindly insisted on honoring the
prohibitions of the Law and failed to perceive the authority of Love,
had he denied this food to him who hungered, what would have been the
result? So far as the priest's assistance went, David would have had
to perish with hunger, and the priest would have been guilty of murder
for the sake of the Law. Here, indeed, "summum jus, summa
injustitia"--the most strenuous right would have been the most
strenuous wrong. Moreover, on examining the heart of the priest who
should be so foolish, you would find there the extreme abomination of
making sin where there is no sin, and a matter of conscience where
there is no occasion for it. For he holds it a sin to eat the bread,
when really it is an act of love and righteousness. Then, too, he
regards his act of murder--permitting David to die of hunger--not a
sin, but a good work and service to God.

11. But who can fully portray this blind, perverted, abominable folly?
It is the perpetration of an evil the devil himself cannot outdo. For
it makes sin where there is no sin, and a matter of conscience without
occasion. It robs of grace, salvation, virtue, and God with all his
blessings, and that without reason, falsely and deceitfully. It
emphatically denies and condemns God. Again, it makes murder and
injustice a good work, a divine service. It puts the devil with his
falsehoods in the place of God. It institutes the worst form of
idolatry and ruins body and soul, destroying the former by hunger and
the latter by a terrified conscience. It makes of God the devil, and
of the devil God. It makes hell of heaven and heaven of hell;
righteousness of sin, and sin of righteousness. This I call
perversion--where strictest justice is the most strenuous wrong.

To this depravity Ezekiel has reference (ch. 13, 18-19): "Thus saith
the Lord Jehovah: Woe to the women that sew pillows upon all elbows,
and make kerchiefs for the head of persons of every stature to hunt
souls! Will ye hunt the souls of my people, and save souls alive for
yourselves? And ye have profaned me among my people for handfuls of
barley and for pieces of bread, to slay the souls that should not die,
and to save the souls alive that should not live, by your lying to my
people that hearken unto lies." What is meant but that the blind
teachers of the Law terrify the conscience, and put sin and death in
the place of grace and life, and grace and life where is only sin and
death; and all for a handful of barley and a bit of bread? In other
words, such teachers devote themselves to laws concerning strictly
external matters, things that perish with the using, such as a drink
of water and a morsel of bread, wholly neglecting love and harassing
the conscience with fear of sin unto eternal death; as Ezekiel goes on
to say (verses 22-23): "Because with lies ye have grieved the heart of
the righteous, whom I have not made sad, and strengthened the hands of
the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, and be
saved alive; therefore ye shall no more see false visions, nor divine
divinations: and I will deliver my people out of your hand; and ye
shall know that I am Jehovah."

12. Mark you, it is making the hearts of the righteous sad to load
them with sins when their works are good; it is strengthening the
hands of the wicked to make their works good when they are naught but
sin. Relative to this subject, we read (Ps 14, 5): "There were they in
great fear; for God is in the generation of the righteous." That is,
the sting of conscience fills with fear where there is neither reason
for fear nor for a disturbed conscience. That is feared as sin which
is really noble service to God. The thought of the last passage is:
When they should call upon God and serve him, they fear such conduct
is sin and not divine service; again, when they have need to fear a
service not divine, they are secure and unafraid. Isaiah's words (ch.
29, 13) are to the same effect: "Their fear of me is a commandment of
men which hath been taught them." Always the perverted people spoken
of corrupt everything. They confidently call on God where is only the
devil; they refrain in fear from calling on God where God is.

13. Such, mark you, is the wretched condition of them who are blindly
occupied with laws and works and fail to comprehend the design of law
and its mistress Love. Note, also, in the case of our miserable
ecclesiasts and their followers, how rigidly they adhere to their own
inventions! Though all the world meet ruin, their devices must be
sustained; they must be perpetuated regardless of bodily illness and
death, or of suffering and ruin for the soul. They even regard such
destruction and ruin as divine service, and know no fear nor remorse
of conscience. Indeed, so strongly entrenched are they in their
wickedness, they will never return from it. Moreover, should one of
their wretched number be permitted to alleviate the distress of his
body and soul--to eat meat, to marry--he is afraid, he feels remorse
of conscience; he is uncertain about sin and law, about death and
hell; he calls not on God, nor serves him; all this, even though the
body should die ten deaths and the soul go to the devil a hundred
times.

14. Observe, then, the state of the world; how little flesh and blood
can accomplish even in their best efforts; how dangerous to undertake
to rule by law alone--indeed, how impossible it is, without great
danger, to govern and instruct souls with mere laws, ignoring love and
the Spirit, in whose hands is the full power of all law. It is written
(Deut 33, 2), "At his right hand was a fiery law for them." This is
the law of love in the Spirit. It shall regulate all laws at the left
hand; that is, the external laws of the world. It is said (Ex 28, 30)
that the priest must bear upon his breast, in the breastplate, "the
Urim and the Thummim"; that is, Light and Perfection, indicative of
the priest's office to illuminate the Law--to give its true sense--and
faultlessly to keep and to teach it.

15. In the conception, the establishment and the observance of all
laws, the object should be, not the furtherance of the laws in
themselves, not the advancement of works, but the exercise of love.
That is the true purpose of law, according to Paul here, "He that
loveth his neighbor hath fulfilled the law." Therefore, when the law
contributes to the injury rather than the benefit of our neighbor, it
should be ignored. The same law may at one time benefit our neighbor
and at another time injure him. Consequently, it should be regulated
according to its advantage to him. Law should be made to serve in the
same way that food and raiment and other necessaries of life serve. We
consider not the food and raiment themselves, but their benefit to our
needy neighbor. And we cease to dispense them as soon as we perceive
they no longer add to his comfort.

16. Suppose you were to come across an individual foolish enough to
act with no other thought than that food and clothing are truly good
things, and so proceed to stuff a needy one with unlimited food and
drink unto choking, and to clothe him unto suffocation, and then not
to desist. Suppose to the command, "Stop, you have suffocated, have
already over-fed and over-clothed him, and all is lost effort now,"
the foolish one should reply: "You heretic, would you forbid good
works? Food, drink and raiment are good things, therefore we must not
cease to dispense them; we cannot do too much." And suppose he
continued to force food and clothing on the man. Tell me, what would
you think of such a one? He is a fool more than foolish; he is more
mad than madness itself. But such is about the character of our
ecclesiasts today, and of those who are so blind in the exercise of
law as to act as if works were the only requisite, and to suffocate
body and soul, being ignorant that the one purpose of law is to call
forth the exercise of love. They make works superior to love, and a
maid to her matron. Such perversion prevails to an extent distressing
to think of, not to mention hearing and seeing it, or more, practicing
and permitting it ourselves.

17. The commandment of love is not a long one; it is short. It is one
injunction, not many. It is even not a commandment, and at the same
time is all commandments. Brief, and a unit in itself, its meaning is
easily comprehended. But in its exercise, it is far-reaching, for it
includes and regulates all commandments. So far as works are enjoined,
it is no commandment at all; it names no peculiar work. Yet it
represents all commandments, because properly the fulfilment of all
commandments is the fulfilment of this. The commandment of love
suspends every commandment, yet it perpetuates all. Its whole purpose
is that we may recognize no commandment, no work, except as love
dictates.

18. As life on earth apart from works is an impossibility, necessarily
there must be various commandments involving works. Yet Love is
supreme over these requirements, dictating the omission or the
performance of works according to its own best interests, and
permitting no works opposed to itself.

To illustrate: A driver, holding the reins, guides team and wagon at
will. If he were content merely to hold the reins, regardless of
whether or no the team followed the road, the entire equipage--team,
wagon, reins and driver--would soon be wrecked; the driver would be
lying drowned in a ditch or a pool, or have his neck broken going over
stumps and rocks. But if he dexterously regulates the movement of the
outfit according to the road, observing where it is safe and where
unsafe, he will proceed securely because wisely. Were he, in his
egotism, to drive straight ahead, endeavoring to make the road conform
to the movement of the wagon, at his pleasure, he would soon see how
beautifully his plan would work.

19. So it is when men are governed by laws and works, the laws not
being regulated according to the people. The case is that of the
driver who would regulate the road by the movements of the wagon.
True, the road is often well suited to the straight course of the
wagon. But just as truly the road is, in certain places, crooked and
uneven, and then the wagon must conform to the course and condition of
the road. Men must adapt themselves to laws and regulations wherever
possible and where the laws are beneficial. But where laws prove
detrimental to men's interests, the former must yield. The ruler must
wisely make allowance for love, suspending works and laws. Hence,
philosophers say prudence--or circumspection or discretion as the
ecclesiasts put it--is the guide and regulator of all virtues.

20. We read in a book of the ancient fathers that on a certain
occasion of their assembling, the question was raised, which is really
the noblest work? Various replies were given. One said prayer, another
fasting; but St. Anthony was of the opinion that of all works and
virtues, discretion is the best and surest way to heaven. These,
however, were but childish, unspiritual ideas relating to their own
chosen works. A Christian views the matter in quite a different light,
and more judiciously. He concludes that neither discretion nor
rashness avails before God. Only faith and love serve with him. But
love is true discretion; love is the driver and the true discretion in
righteous works. It always looks to the good of the neighbor, to the
amelioration of his condition; just as the discretion of the world
looks to the general welfare of the governed in the adjustment of
political laws. Let this suffice on this point.

21. But the question arises: How can love fulfil the Law when love is
but one of the fruits of faith and we have frequently said that only
faith in Christ removes our sins, justifies us and satisfies all the
demands of the Law? How can we make the two claims harmonize? Christ
says, too (Mt 7, 12): "All things, therefore, whatsoever ye would that
men should do unto you, even so do ye also unto them: for this is the
law and the prophets." Thus he shows that love for one's neighbor
fulfils both the Law and the prophets. Again, he says (Mt 22, 37-40):
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God ... thy neighbor as thyself. On
these two the whole law hangeth, and the prophets." Where, then, does
Paul stand, who says (Rom 3, 31): "Do we then make the law of none
effect through faith? God forbid: nay, we establish the law." Again
(Rom 3, 28): "We reckon therefore that a man is justified by faith
apart from the works of the law." And again (Rom 1, 17), "The
righteous shall live by faith."

22. I reply: As we have frequently said, we must properly distinguish
between faith and love. Faith deals with the heart, and love with the
works. Faith removes our sins, renders us acceptable, justifies us.
And being accepted and justified as to our person, love is given us in
the Holy Spirit and we delight in doing good. Now, it is the nature of
the Law to attack our person and demand good works; and it will not
cease to demand until it gains its point. We cannot do good works
without the Spirit and love. The Law constrains us to know ourselves
with our imperfections, and to recognize the necessity of our becoming
altogether different individuals that we may satisfy the Law. The Law
does not exact so much of the heart as of works; in fact, it demands
nothing but works and ignores the heart. It leaves the individual to
discover, from the works required, that he must become an altogether
different person. But faith, when it comes, creates a nature capable
of accomplishing the works the Law demands. Thus is the Law fulfilled.

So Paul's sayings on the subject are beautiful and appropriate. The
Law demands of us works; it must be fulfilled by works. Hence it
cannot in every sense be said that faith fulfils the Law. However, it
prepares the way and enables us to fulfil it, for the Law demands, not
us, but our works. The Law constrains us--teaches us that we must be
changed before we can accomplish its works; it makes us conscious of
our inability as we are. On the other hand, love and works do not
change us, do not justify us. We must be changed in person and
justified before we can love and do good works. Our love and our works
are evidence of justification and of a change, since they are
impossible until the individual is free from sin and made righteous.

23. This explanation is given to enable us to perceive the true nature
of the Law, of faith and of love; to ascribe to each its own mission;
and rightly to understand the Scripture declarations in their
harmonious relations that while faith justifies, it does not fulfil
the Law, and that while love does not justify, it does fulfil the Law.
The Law requires love and works, but does not mention the heart. The
heart is sensible of the Law, but love is not. Just as the Law, in
requiring works before faith exists, is a sign to the individual
leading him to recognize his utter lack of faith and righteousness,
and to conclude he is conquered, so love in its fulfilment of the Law
after faith intervenes is a sign and a proof to the individual of his
faith and righteousness. Law and love, then, witness to him concerning
his unrighteousness or his righteousness. After faith comes, love is
evidence of righteousness. Before faith, man is sensible of the Law's
oppression because he knows he does not possess what the Law requires.
And the Law does not require a changed heart, but works. Love and
works do not effect the fulfilment of the Law; they are themselves its
fulfilment.

24. Now, though faith does not fulfil the Law, it contains that which
effects its fulfilment; it secures the Spirit and love whereby the end
is accomplished. On the other hand, if love does not justify us, it
makes manifest the faith whereby we are justified. Briefly, as Paul
says here, "Love is the fulfilment of the law." His thought is:
Fulfilment of the Law is one thing, and effecting or furnishing its
fulfilment another. Love fulfils the Law in the sense that love itself
is its fulfilment; but faith fulfils it in the sense that it offers
that by which it is fulfilled. For faith loves and works, as said in
Galatians 5, 6, "Faith worketh through love." The water fills the
pitcher; so does the cupbearer. The water fills of itself; the
cupbearer fills with the water--"effective et formaliter implere," as
the sophists would say.

25. Faith is ever the actor, and love the act. The law requires the
act and thus forces the actor to be changed. The Law is then fulfilled
by the act, which, however, the actor must perform. Thus Paul rejects
the fancies of the sophists, who in the matter of love would make a
distinction between the external work and the inner affection, saying:
"Love is an inner affection that loves our neighbor when in our heart
we wish him well." Its expression in works, however, they call the
fruit of love. But we will not discuss this idea. Note, Paul terms
love not only an affection, but an affectionate good act. Faith and
the heart are the actor and fulfiller of the Law. Paul says, "He that
loveth his neighbor hath fulfilled the law." And love is the act, the
fulfilling; for he says, "Love is the fulfilment of the law."

26. Another question arises: How can love for our neighbor be the
fulfilment of the Law when we are required to love God supremely, even
above our neighbor? I reply: Christ answers the question when he tells
us (Mt 22, 39) the second commandment is like unto the first. He makes
love to God and love to our neighbor the same love. The reason for
this is, first: God, having no need for our works and benefactions for
himself, bids us to do for our neighbor what we would do for God. He
asks for himself only our faith and our recognition of him as God. The
object of proclaiming his honor and rendering him praise and thanks
here on earth is that our neighbor may be converted and brought into
fellowship with God. Such service is called the love of God, and is
performed out of love to God; but it is exercised for the benefit of
our neighbor only.

27. The second reason why God makes love to our neighbor an obligation
equal to love to himself is: God has made worldly wisdom foolish,
desiring henceforth to be loved amid crosses and afflictions. Paul
says (1 Cor 1, 21), "Seeing that in the wisdom of God the world
through its wisdom knew not God, it was God's good pleasure through
the foolishness of the preaching to save them that believe."
Therefore, upon the cross he submitted himself unto death and misery,
and imposed the same submission upon all his disciples. They who
refused to love him before when he bestowed upon them food and drink,
blessing and honor, must now love him in hunger and sorrow, in
adversity and disgrace. All works of love, then, must be directed to
our wretched, needy neighbors. In these lowly ones we are to find and
love God, in them we are to serve and honor him, and only so can we do
it. The commandment to love God is wholly merged in that to love our
neighbors.

28. These facts restrain those elusive, soaring spirits that seek
after God only in great and glorious undertakings. It stops the mouths
of those who strive after greatness like his, who would force
themselves into heaven, presuming to serve and love him with their
brilliant works. But they miss him by passing over him in their
earthly neighbor, in whom God would be loved and honored. Therefore,
they will hear, on the last day, the sentence (Mt 25, 42), "I was
hungry, and ye did not give me to eat," etc. For Christ laid aside his
divinity and took upon himself the form of a servant for the very
purpose of bringing down and centering upon our neighbor the love we
extend to himself. Yet we leave the Lord to lie here in his
humiliation while we gaze open-mouthed into heaven and make great
pretensions to love and service to God.


ALL COMMANDMENTS SUMMED UP IN LOVE.

"For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou
shalt not steal, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other
commandment, it is briefly summed up in this word, namely, Thou shalt
love thy neighbor as thyself."

29. Love being the chief element of all law, it comprehends, as has
been made sufficiently clear, all commandments. Its one concern is to
be useful to man and not harmful; therefore, it readily discovers the
way. Recognizing the fact that man, from his ardent self-love, seeks
to promote his own interests and avoid injuring them, love endeavors
to adopt the same course toward others. We will consider the
commandment just cited, noticing how ingeniously and wisely it is
arranged. It brings out four thoughts. First, it states who is under
obligation to love: thou--the nearest, noblest, best individual we can
command. No one can fulfil the Law of God for another; each must do it
for himself. As Paul says (Gal 6, 5), "Each man shall bear his own
burden." And (2 Cor 5, 10): "For we must all be made manifest before
the judgment-seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things done
in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or
bad." So it is said, "Thou, thou thyself, must love;" not, "Let
someone else love for you." Though one can and should pray that God
may be gracious to another and help him, yet no one will be saved
unless he himself fulfils God's command. It is not enough merely to
pray that another may escape punishment, as the venders of indulgences
teach; much rather, we should pray that he become righteous and
observe God's precepts.

30. Second, the commandment names the most noble virtue--love. It does
not say, "Thou shalt feed thy neighbor, give him drink, clothe him,"
all of which things are inestimably good works; it says, "Thou shalt
love him." Love is the chief virtue, the fountain of all virtues. Love
gives food and drink; it clothes, comforts, persuades, relieves and
rescues. What shall we say of it, for behold he who loves gives
himself, body and soul, property and honor, all his powers inner and
external, for his needy neighbor's benefit, whether it be friend or
enemy; he withholds nothing wherewith he may serve another. There is
no virtue like love; there can be no special work assigned it as in
the case of limited virtues, such as chastity, mercy, patience,
meekness, and the like. Love does all things. It will suffer in life
and in death, in every condition, and that even for its enemies. Well
may Paul here say that all other commandments are briefly comprehended
in the injunction, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."

31. Third, the commandment names, as the sphere of our love, the
noblest field, the dearest friend--our neighbor. It does not say,
"Thou shalt love the rich, the mighty, the learned, the saint." No,
the unrestrained love designated in this most perfect commandment does
not apportion itself among the few. With it is no respect of persons.
It is the nature of false, carnal, worldly love to respect the
individual, and to love only so long as it hopes to derive profit.
When such hope ceases, that love also ceases. The commandment of our
text, however, requires of us free, spontaneous love to all men,
whoever they may be, and whether friend or foe, a love that seeks not
profit, and administers only what is beneficial. Such love is most
active and powerful in serving the poor, the needy, the sick, the
wicked, the simple-minded and the hostile; among these it is always
and under all circumstances necessary to suffer and endure, to serve
and do good.

32. Note here, this commandment makes us all equal before God, without
regard to distinctions incident to our stations in life, to our
persons, offices and occupations. Since the commandment is to all--to
every human being--a sovereign, if he be a human being, must confess
the poorest beggar, the most wretched leper, his neighbor and his
equal in the sight of God. He is under obligation, according to this
commandment, not to extend a measure of help, but to serve that
neighbor with all he has and all he controls. If he loves him as God
here commands him to do, he must give the beggar preference over his
crown and all his realm; and if the beggar's necessity requires, must
give his life. He is under obligation to love his neighbor, and must
admit that such a one is his neighbor.

33. Is not this a superior, a noble, commandment, which completely
levels the most unequal individuals? Is it not wonderfully comforting
to the beggar to have servants and lovers of such honor? wonderful
that his poverty commands the services of a king in his opulence? that
to his sores and wounds are subject the crown of wealth and the sweet
savor of royal splendor? But how strange it would seem to us to behold
kings and queens, princes and princesses, serving beggars and lepers,
as we read St. Elizabeth did! Even this, however, would be a slight
thing in comparison with what Christ has done. No one can ever equal
him in the obedience wherewith he has exalted this commandment. He is
a king whose honor transcends that of all other kings; indeed, he is
the Son of God. And yet he puts himself on a level with the worst
sinners, and serves them even to dying for them. Were ten kings of
earth to serve to the utmost one beggar, it would be a remarkable
thing; but of what significance would it be in comparison with the
service Christ has rendered? The kings would be put to utter shame and
would have to acknowledge their service unworthy of notice.

34. Learn, then, the condition of the world--how far it is, not only
from Christ's immeasurable example, but from the commandment in this
verse. Where are to be found any who comprehend the meaning of the
little phrase "thy neighbor," notwithstanding there is, beside this
commandment, the natural law of service written in the hearts of all
men? Not an individual is there who does not realize, and who is not
forced to confess, the justice and truth of the natural law outlined
in the command (Mt 7, 12), "All things therefore whatsoever ye would
that men should do unto you, even so do ye also unto them." The light
of this law shines in the inborn reason of all men. Did they but
regard it, what need have they of books, teachers or laws? They carry
with them in the depths of their hearts a living book, fitted to teach
them fully what to do and what to omit, what to accept and what to
reject, and what decision to make.

Now, the command to love our neighbors as ourselves is equivalent to
that other, "Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you," etc.
Every individual desires to be loved and not hated; and he also feels
and sees his obligation to exercise the same disposition toward
others. The carrying out of this obligation is loving another as
himself. But evil lust and sinful love obscure the light of natural
law, and blind man, until he fails to perceive the guide-book in his
heart and to follow the clear command of reason. Hence he must be
restrained and repelled by external laws and material books, with the
sword and by force. He must be reminded of his natural light and have
his own heart revealed to him. Yet admonition does not avail; he does
not see the light. Evil lust and sinful love blind him. With the sword
and with political laws he must still be outwardly restrained from
perpetrating actual crimes.

35. The fourth thing the commandment presents is the standard by which
we are to measure our love--an excellent model. Those are particularly
worthy instructions and commandments which present examples. This
commandment holds up a truly living example--"thyself." It is a better
model than any example the saints have set. The saints are dead and
their deeds are past, but this example ever lives. Everyone must admit
a consciousness of his own love for himself; of his ardent concern for
his temporal life; of his careful nourishment of his body with food,
raiment and all good things; of his fleeing from death and avoiding
evil. This is self-love; something we are conscious of in ourselves.
What, then, is the teaching of the commandment? To do to another as
you do to yourself; to value his body and his life equally with your
own body and life. Now, how could God have pointed you to an example
dearer, more pleasing and more to the purpose than this example--the
deep instinct of your nature? Indeed, your depth of character is
measured by the writing of this command in your heart.

36. How will you fare with God if you do not love your neighbor?
Feeling this commandment written within your heart, your conscience
will condemn you. Your whole conduct will be an example witnessing
against you, testifying to your failure to do unto others as the
natural instinct of your being, more forcibly than all the examples of
the saints, has taught you to do. But how will it go with the
ecclesiasts in particular--the churchmen with their singing and
praying, their cowls and bald pates, and all their jugglery? I make no
comment on the fact that they have never observed the commandment. I
ask, however, when has their monastic fanaticism permitted them time
and opportunity to perceive for once this law in their hearts, to
become sensible of the example set them in their own human instinct,
or even to read the precept in books or hear it preached? Poor,
miserable people! Do you presume to think that God will make void
this, love's commandment, so deeply and clearly impressed upon the
heart, so beautifully and unmistakably illustrated in your own
natures, and in the many written and spoken words as well--think you
God will do this on account of your cowls and bald pates, and regard
what you have been devising and performing?

37. Alas, how shamelessly the world has ignored this beautiful and
impressive commandment wherein are so skilfully presented the
individual, the task, the model and the sphere of labor! And, on the
other hand, how shamefully it occupies itself with the very reverse of
what is taught in this commandment! Its whole practice and tendency
seem to be to place our responsibility upon others; monks and priests
must be righteous for us and pray in our stead, that we may personally
be excused. For the noblest virtue, love, we substitute self-devised
works; in the place of our neighbors we put wood and stone, raiment
and food, even dead souls--the saints of heaven. These we serve; with
them we are occupied; they are the sphere wherein we exercise
ourselves. Instead of the noblest example--"as thyself"--we look to
the legends and the works of saints. We presume to imitate such
outward examples, omitting the duty which our own nature and life
present and which the command of God outlines, notwithstanding such
duty offers more than we could ever fulfil. Even if we could
accomplish all it offers, we would still not equal Christ.


LOVE WORKS ONLY GOOD TO ITS NEIGHBOR.

"Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: love, therefore, is the
fulfilment of the law."

38. The Ten Commandments forbid doing evil to our neighbor--"Thou
shalt not kill, Thou shalt not commit adultery," etc. The apostle,
employing similar phraseology, says that love observes all these
commands, injuring none. Not only that; it effects good for all. It is
practically doing evil to permit our neighbor to remain in peril when
we can relieve him, even though we may not have been instrumental in
placing him where he is. If he is hungry and we do not feed him when
it is in our power to do so, we practically permit him to die of
hunger. We should take this view concerning any perilous condition,
any adverse circumstance, with our neighbors. How love is the
fulfilment of the Law, we have now heard.



_Fifth Sunday After Epiphany_

Text: Colossians 3, 12-17.

12 Put on therefore, as God's elect, holy and beloved, a heart of
compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, longsuffering; 13
forbearing one another, and forgiving each other, if any man have a
complaint against any; even as the Lord forgave you, so also do ye: 14
and above all these things put on love, which is the bond of
perfectness. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to
the which also ye were called in one body; and be ye thankful. 16 Let
the Word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and
admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
singing with grace in your hearts unto God. 17 And whatsoever ye do,
in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving
thanks to God the Father through him.


THE GLORIOUS ADORNMENT OF CHRISTIANS.

1. This text is also a letter of admonition, teaching what manner of
fruit properly results from faith. Paul deals kindly with the
Colossians. He does not command, urge nor threaten, as teachers of the
Law must do in the case of those under the Law. He persuades them with
loving words in view of the blessing and grace of God received, and in
the light of Christ's own example. Christians should act with
readiness and cheerfulness, being moved neither by fear of punishment
nor by desire for reward, as frequently before stated. This admonition
has been so oft repeated in the preceding epistle lesson that we know,
I trust, what constitutes a Christian. Therefore we will but briefly
touch on the subject.

"Put on, therefore."

2. In the epistle for New Year's day we have sufficiently explained
the meaning of "putting on"; how by faith we put on Christ, and he us;
how in love we put on our neighbor, and our neighbor us. The Christian
apparel is of two kinds--faith and love. Christ wore two manner of
garments--one whole and typical of faith, the other divided and
typical of love.

Paul here has reference to the latter garment, love. He would teach us
Christians the manner of ornaments and apparel we are to wear in the
world; not silk or precious gold. To women these are forbidden of
Peter (1 Pet 3, 3), and of Paul (1 Tim 2, 9). Love for our neighbor is
a garment well befitting us--that love which leads us to concern
ourselves about the neighbor and his misfortunes. Such love is called
the ornament of a Christian character--an ornament in the eyes of men.

3. Observe the tender and sacred style of the apostle's admonition, a
style he is wont to use toward us. He does not drive us with laws, but
persuades by reminding us of the ineffable grace of God; for he terms
us the "elect of God," and "holy" and "beloved." He would call forth
the fruits of faith, desiring them to be yielded in a willing,
cheerful and happy spirit. The individual who sincerely believes and
trusts that before God he is beloved, holy and elect, will consider
how to sustain his honors and titles, how to conduct himself worthily
of them; more, he will love God with a fervor enabling him to do or
omit, or to suffer, all things cheerfully, and will never know how to
do enough. But he who doubts such attitude of God toward himself will
not recognize the force of these words. He will not feel the power of
the statement that we are holy, beloved, elect, in the sight of God.

4. Let us disregard, therefore, the saints who elect and love
themselves; who adorn themselves with the works of the Law; who
observe fasts and discipline; who regard raiment and position, for
they are unwilling to be sinners before God. Our ornaments are unlike
these, and not associated with such mockeries. They are honesty,
sincerity, good works, service to our neighbor. We are unfettered by
laws regarding food, raiment, times, etc. We are holy in the sight of
God, before whom none can be holy until he sees himself a sinner and
rejects his own righteousness. But the class mentioned are holy in
their own estimation; therefore, they ever remain wicked--sinners in
the sight of God. We are beloved of God because we despise ourselves,
we judge and condemn ourselves and reject our self-love. The others,
because they love and esteem themselves, are despicable and
unacceptable in the sight of God. Again, we are chosen of God for the
reason that we despise ourselves as filth. Such God chooses, and has
chosen from eternity. Because the would-be saints elect themselves,
God will reject them, as indeed he has from eternity. Now, this is
what Paul means by these words,

"A heart of compassion."

5. They stand for a part of the ornament, the beautiful, charming
Christian jewel, that becomes us better in the sight of God than
pearls, precious stones, silk and gold become us in the eyes of the
world. "A heart of compassion" is evidence of the true Christian. Paul
would say: "Not simply in external deed, or in appearance, are ye to
be merciful, but in the inmost heart." He refers to that sincere and
whole-souled mercy characteristic of the father and mother who witness
the distress of a child for whom they would readily expose their lives
or sacrifice all they possess. The Christian's mind and heart should
be constantly devoted to merciful deeds, with an ardor so intense as
to make him unaware he is doing good and compassionate acts.

6. With this single phrase Paul condemns the works and arbitrary rules
of hypocritical saints, whose severity will not permit them to
associate with sinners. Their rigorous laws must be all-controlling.
They do nothing but compel and drive. They exhibit no mercy, but
perpetual reproach, censure, condemnation, blame and bluster. They can
endure no imperfection. But among Christians many are sinners, many
infirm. In fact, Christians associate only with these; not with
saints. Christians reject none, but bear with all. Indeed, they are as
sincerely interested for sinners as they would be for themselves were
they the infirm. They pray for the sinners, teach, admonish, persuade,
do all in their power to reclaim. Such is the true character of a
Christian. So God, in Christ, has dealt with us and ever deals. So
Christ dealt with the adulteress (Jn 8, 11) when he released her from
her tormentors, and with his gracious words influenced her to
repentance and suffered her to depart. We read of St. Antony having
said that Paphrutius knew how souls are to be saved, because he
rescued a certain individual from brethren who persecuted and
oppressed him for his transgression. See "Lives of the Fathers."

Were God to deal with us according to the rigor of his laws, we should
all be lost. But he mercifully suspends the Law. Isaiah says (ch. 9,
4): "For the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the
rod of his oppressor, thou hast broken." God now only persuades.

7. Note how involved in the Law and in hypocrisy they still are who
esteem themselves prominent saints and at the same time are intolerant
of the infirmities of Christians. If they fail to find perfect
holiness--a miracle of purity--in those who possess Christ and know
the Gospel, then nothing is as it should be; the heavens are on the
point of falling and the earth about to be destroyed. They can only
judge, censure and deride, saying: "Oh, yes, he is truly evangelical;
indeed, he is a visionary!" Thus they indicate their utter blindness.
With the beam constantly in their own eyes, they show how little they
know of Christ.

Know, then, when you meet one so ready to censure and condemn, one
requiring absolute perfection in Christians--know that such a one is
merely an enforcer of the Law, a base hypocrite, a merciless jailer,
with no true knowledge of Christ. As, with Christians, there is no law
but all is love, so neither can there be judgment, condemnation and
censure. And he who calls another a visionary is certainly a visionary
ten-fold himself. In the thing for which he judges and condemns
another, he condemns himself. Since he ignores mercy and all but the
Law, he finds no mercy in the sight of God; in fact, he has never
experienced, never tasted, God's mercy. To his taste, both God and
neighbor are bitter as gall and wormwood.

8. But tender mercy is to be shown only to Christians and only among
Christians. With the rejecters and persecutors of the Gospel we must
deal differently. It is not right that my charity be liberal enough to
tolerate unsound doctrine. In the case of false faith and doctrine
there is neither love nor patience. Against these it is my duty
earnestly to contend and not to yield a hair's breadth.
Otherwise--when faith is not imperiled--I must be unfailingly kind and
merciful to all notwithstanding the infirmities of their lives. I may
not censure, oppress nor drive; I must persuade, entreat and tolerate.
A defective life does not destroy Christianity; it exercises it. But
defective doctrine--false belief--destroys all good. So, then,
toleration and mercy are not permissible in the case of unsound
doctrine; only anger, opposition and death are in order, yet always in
accordance with the Word of God.

9. On the other hand, they who are mercifully tolerated must not
imagine that because they escape censure and force, their beliefs and
practices are right. They must not construe such mercy as
encouragement to become indolent and negligent, and to continue in
their error. Mercy is not extended them with any such design. The
object is to give them opportunity to recover zeal and strength. But
if they be disposed to remain as they are, very well; let them alone.
They will not long continue thus; the devil will lead them farther
astray, until finally they will completely apostatize, even becoming
enemies to the Gospel. Such will be their end if they permit mercy to
be lavished upon them in vain. We may not be indolent and asleep in
the matter of our false doctrines, relying upon the fact that we are
not despised nor constrained of men. There is particular need to be
active and diligent, for the devil neither sleeps nor rests. We need
beware that he does not lead us where we will never enjoy God's mercy.

"Kindness, lowliness, meekness, longsuffering."

10. These words represent the other elements of Christian character.
Kindness you will find defined in the second epistle lesson for the
early Christmas service. It characterizes the conduct of the
individual who is gentle and sympathetic to all; who repels none with
forbidding countenance, harsh words or rude deportment. We Germans
would call such a one affable and friendly disposed. Kindness is a
virtue not confined to certain works; it modifies the whole life. The
kindly person is obliging to everyone, not displeased with any, and is
attractive to all men. In contrast are those peculiar characters who
have pleasure in nothing but their own conceits; who insist on others
accommodating themselves to them and their ways, while they yield to
none. Such individuals are termed "uncivil."

11. But the liberality of kindness is not to be extended to false
doctrine. Only relative to conduct and works is it to be exercised. As
oft before stated, love with all its works and fruits has no place in
the matter of unsound doctrine. I must love my neighbor and show him
kindness whatever the imperfections of his life. But if he refuses to
believe or to teach sound doctrine, I cannot, I dare not, love him or
show him kindness. According to Paul (Gal 1, 8-9), I must hold him
excommunicated and accursed, even though he be an angel from heaven.

Thus remarkably do faith and love differ and are distinct. Love will
be, must be, kind even to the bitterest enemy so long as he assails
not faith and doctrine. But it will not, it cannot, tolerate the
individual who does, be it father, mother or dearest friend. Deut 13,
6-8. Love, then, must be exercised, not in relation to the doctrine
and faith of our neighbor, but relative to his life and works. Faith,
on the contrary, has to do, not with his works and life, but with his
doctrine and belief.

12. I think we must know by this time the meaning of "lowliness" of
mind--esteeming one's self least and others greater. As Christ
illustrates it, occupying the lowest seat at the wedding, and this
cheerfully. We are to serve even when our service is not desired, and
to minister unto our enemies. So Christ humbled himself before Judas
the betrayer, and before all of us. He came, not to be served, but to
serve. That humbleness of mind is a rare virtue is not to be wondered
at, for every Christian grace is a rarity. Particularly are graces
lacking with those who, professing to know most of Christ, find
something to censure in all Christians. Christianity Paul calls a
mystery of God; and it is likely to continue so.

13. "Meekness" is opposed to anger. The meek man is not easily excited
to exhibit anger, to curse, smite, hate, or wish evil to any, even an
enemy. To refrain thus is an art. Hypocrites--in fact, all the
world--can be meek toward friends and those who treat them well. But
true meekness and humility will remain only among the elect and
beloved saints of God, as Paul here implies. Even among these are many
deficient in all, or at least a large part, of the Christian graces.
Hypocrites may thus find something to censure, something whereat to be
offended, in the beloved, elect saints of God. And the true saints
have occasion to exercise mercy, humility, meekness and forbearance.
They whom Paul here terms elect and beloved saints of God, though
slightly deficient in humility, meekness and forbearance, are not
therefore unholy, not rejected and despised.

14. Paul makes a distinction between longsuffering and forbearance, as
in Romans 2, 4: "Despisest thou the riches of his goodness and
forbearance and longsuffering?" In "longsuffering" we have the thought
here and there expressed by God in the Psalms and elsewhere by the
Hebrew "arich apaim"--"slow to wrath." God patiently bears with evil.
Indeed, he repeatedly delays vengeance, apparently more ready to
forgive than to punish, even under extreme provocation and having just
reason to chastise. Longsuffering extends farther than patience.
Patience bears evil and injustice; but longsuffering delays
punishment. It does not design to punish; it would not take hasty
revenge. Unlike the revengeful, it wishes no one evil. Many we see,
indeed, who suffer much and are patient but at the same time trust in
a final avenging. The longsuffering Christian, however, is opposed to
revenge, desiring the sinner to amend his ways.

"Forbearing one another, and forgiving each other, if any man have a
complaint against any; even as the Lord forgave you, so also do ye."

15. In this verse all law is abolished among Christians. One is not
permitted to demand, through process of law, the recovery of his
property. He must forgive and yield. Christ's example enjoins this
principle; he has forgiven us. And what is the extent of his
forgiveness? He pardons past sins, but that is not all; as John says
(1 Jn 2, 1-2), "If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ the righteousness and he is the propitiation for our
sins."

16. Note, it is the true Christian saints whom Paul describes, but he
looks upon them as infirm to the extent of offending and complaining
against one another. This is a state of affairs by no means becoming
Christians and saints. So I say Christ's kingdom is a mystery obscure
beyond the power of our preaching and teaching sufficiently to
explain. Unbelievers cannot be induced to work, but believers cannot
be withheld from working. Some would not believe and some would not
love.

It is true of Christ's kingdom that his Christians are not perfectly
holy. They have begun to be holy and are in a state of progression.
There are still to be found among them anger, evil desire, unholy
love, worldly care and other deplorable infirmities, remains of the
old Adam. Paul speaks of these things as burdens which one must bear
for a neighbor (Gal 6, 2), and in Romans 15, 1, he admonishes us to
"bear the infirmities of the weak." Likewise Christ loved his apostles
much and suffered much from them, and he still daily bears with his
own.

17. Some, enumerating the fruits of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians
5, 22-23, say a Christian should be gentle, meek, longsuffering,
chaste; and they look upon this passage as a law commanding such
fruits. Hence they refuse to recognize as Christians any who fail to
possess the fruits in perfection. Now, such individuals cannot believe
there is a Christ, certain as the fact is. They judge malignantly,
complaining that Christians do not exist. They take offense at Christ
for his superior wisdom. For Christ has given us scriptural authority
for knowing Christians by their fruits. He says (Mt 7, 16), "By their
fruits ye shall know them." Here they are emphatic.

18. Can you locate the failure of such an individual? He fails in the
fact that he understands absolutely nothing of Christ's kingdom. For
he misinterprets the passages referring to Christians. He understands
the statement that Christians should be kind and meek, to mean they
must never become angry, must bear anything and show impatience toward
none; if they do not so, they cannot be Christians, for they have not
the fruits. Dear man, what but his own blindness can lead him to such
a conclusion? He fancies Christianity to be a holy order of
perfection, altogether without infirmity, a perfection as in heaven
among the angels. But tell me, where do the Scriptures speak thus of
Christians?

But whoso recognizes Christianity as a progressive order yet in its
beginning, will not be offended at the occasional manifestation of
ungentleness, unkindness and impatience on the part of a Christian;
for he remembers that Christians are commanded to bear one another's
burdens and infirmities. He knows that the enumeration of the fruits
of the Spirit is not a record of laws the observance of which is
imperative or Christ will be denied. He is aware the passage is to be
interpreted as meaning that Christians are to strive to be kind; that
is the mark at which they aim. However, even though they have made a
beginning and some progress in this virtue, they often are unkind and
bear fruits directly the opposite of the fruits of the Spirit. True,
the text quoted says we should be kind, but it does not say we are
kind. We are tending toward it, we are in a state of progression; but
during the progress much of the old and as yet untransformed nature is
intermingled.

19. Know, then, that in a mysterious way Christ is in his saints, and
beware of judging or condemning anyone when you have not positive
assurance that he believes and teaches contrary to the Gospel. But
whoso does oppose the Gospel, you may safely judge to be without
Christ, and under the sway of the devil. Pray for such a one and
admonish him, in the hope of his conversion. But in the case of one
who endorses and honors the Gospel, observe Paul's comment (Rom 14,
4): "Who art thou that judgest the servant of another? to his own lord
he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be made to stand; for the Lord
hath power to make him stand." And again (1 Cor 10, 12): "Wherefore
let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." Christ
would be at the same time hidden and revealed, found and not found. He
permits the intermingling of some infirmities with the fruits of the
Spirit, that he may conceal himself, and that malicious judges may be
offended.

"And above all these things put on love, which is the bond of
perfectness."

20. From longsuffering and meekness the apostle distinguishes love and
other jewels of spiritual beauty whereof we have already heard, though
all are comprehended in love. As faith is the chief element of
Christian character, so love is chief of the fruits of the Spirit, the
jewel of surpassing beauty. Therefore Paul says, "Above all these
things put on love." Love transcends mercy, kindness, meekness and
humility. Paul calls it "the bond of perfectness" because it unites
human hearts; not a partial unity, based on similarity or close
relationship, but a complete unity among all men and in all relations.
It makes us of one mind, one heart, one desire. It permits no one to
originate a peculiar order of doctrine or faith. All who love are of
the same belief. Consequently there is the same purpose of heart with
the poor and the rich, with rulers and subjects, the ill and the well,
the high and the low, the honored and the disgraced. The loving heart
permits all to share in its good; more, it participates in the
adversities of all men, regarding them as its own. Where love is,
perfect unity and communion obtain in every event, good or bad. It is
a most perfect bond.

21. Where love is lacking, hearts are united and aims single in but
few relations; in most things there is disagreement. For instance:
Robbers have a common bond, but it is no more than a common purpose in
committing robbery and murder. Worldly friends are of the same mind so
far as concerns their own interests. Monks are united in relation to
their order and their honor. Herod and Pilate agreed, but simply in
regard to Christ. For the most part it is exceptional that one monk,
priest or layman agrees with another. Their bond of union is weak;
they are as chaff bound with straw.

"And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which also ye
were called."

22. There is much to threaten the sundering of love's bond. The devil
never sleeps, but continually stirs up discord and unrest. Paul does
not deny that the bond is assailed. But he exhorts us to resist,
remembering that love must be exercised by opposition. He admonishes
us to let the peace of Christ have dominion in our hearts. The thought
of the verse is: Though the peace of the world and the flesh abides
not, though you must witness the forces of discord and disruption,
nevertheless let your hearts have peace in Christ.

We spoke of the peace of God in the epistle selection for the Fourth
Sunday in Advent--Philippians 4, 7. This is the peace whereunto the
Gospel calls; not the peace of the world, the flesh or the devil, but
the peace that passeth all understanding, of which Paul tells us. We
are to hold the peace of God, not only when all is well, but when sin,
death, the flesh, the world and all calamities rage.

"And be ye thankful."

23. "Thankfulness" here may be taken in either of two senses: First,
thankfulness toward God, Paul's thought being: Let the remembrance of
all God has done for you move you to gratitude for his grace and
mercy, a gratitude to which shall succeed love and peace. Secondly, we
may understand thankfulness toward men--gratitude for all the benefits
received from our fellows. The apostle elsewhere (2 Tim 3, 2) speaks
of there being, in the last days, among other vices, that of
"unthankfulness" of men toward each other. Let everyone make choice
for himself of the two applications. It is my opinion, since Paul
later takes up the subject of gratitude to God, and since he is here
handling that of love to our neighbor--it is my opinion he has
reference here to gratitude to our fellowmen. This, I think, is his
meaning.

Man is glad to have love shown him; he is quite willing to receive
good from others and to be dealt with according to the Gospel. At the
same time, he is not disposed to manifest love to his fellows: favors
shown him are lost upon his ingratitude. Though love is not defeated
by ungratefulness--for it bears all things (1 Cor 13, 7)--yet
unthankfulness produces weariness and aversion; and it is a base,
unjust and shameful thing for one who continually lends assistance not
to be served in return.

24. Paul says on this topic (Gal 6, 6), "Let him that is taught in the
Word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things." And he
declares (1 Tim 5, 17) that they who labor in the Word and doctrine
are worthy of double honor. In the ninth chapter of First Corinthians
he speaks at length on how teachers are entitled to support, saying
the mouth of the threshing ox should not be muzzled; that would be
gross ingratitude. Of such unthankfulness he here hints. It is true
today, and ever has been, that preachers of the Word of God must in
general seek their own bread, and receive ingratitude as their reward
for the wonderful blessings they confer. Were it their part to
celebrate masses and indulgences, gratitude would be forthcoming;
great would be the gifts and service rendered them as expression of
thankfulness. But just as ungratefully were the Levites treated under
the old Law, in contrast with the favor shown the priests of idols and
groves.

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching
and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
singing with grace in your hearts unto God."

25. This verse appropriately follows the injunction to be thankful.
Paul would say: Be careful to honor teachers and preachers, being
grateful that they handle the Word and may richly impart it to you. I
do not imagine Paul refers to the giving of the Word of God from
heaven, for it is not within man's power to so give it; God alone can
commit it to us. So he has done and continues to do. On every occasion
when he permits the Gospel to be preached, he showers the message upon
us abundantly, withholding no essential knowledge. But, after it is
given, we ought to be thankful and to faithfully read and hear it,
sing and speak it, and meditate upon it day and night. And it should
be our part to secure teachers enough to minister it to us liberally
and continuously. This is what is meant by letting the Word of God
dwell among us richly.

26. Satiated, indolent spirits soon grow tired and dismiss their
pastors to go wherever they wish. The latter are forced to seek a
living by other work, and thus God's Word is neglected and becomes
rare and thinly sown in the land. Nehemiah (ch. 13, 10) complains that
the Levites, because of lack of support, were forced to leave their
worship and temple and flee to the fields or start false worship and
fables to mislead the people. They then received enough to exist--they
became wealthy.

It has come about in the Christian Church that as often as the support
of godly pastors and teachers has grown to be a burden, as Augustine
laments has been the case, these have been either forced to neglect
the Word to labor for their own support, or forced to invent that
wretched, accursed worship now prevalent throughout the world and
whereby the preachers have attained lordly position. With the revival
of the Gospel the financial difficulty mentioned is recurring, and it
will continue to recur. One hundred dollars cannot now be raised for
the support of a good schoolmaster or preacher where formerly a
thousand dollars--yes, incomputible sums--were contributed toward
churches, institutions, masses, vigils and the like. Once more God
punishes ingratitude by permitting his preachers to withdraw wholly
from the ministry and to engage in their own support, or by sending
upon the people even greater delusions than ever, which defraud them
of wealth and destroy body and soul. For they refuse to let the Word
of God dwell among them richly. Paul adds the modifying phrase,

"In all wisdom."

27. Were we to have the Word of God so richly as to ring in every
street corner, to be sung everywhere by all children--as they designed
who into the pulpits and the lessons introduced canonical prayers and
singing and reading--what would all this profit without an
understanding mind--without wisdom? For the Word of God was given to
make us wise. It was intended that we should understand it; that it
should be preached and sung intelligibly. And they who minister it,
who sing and speak it, ought to be wise, understanding everything
pertaining to the salvation of the soul and the honor of God. That is
what it means to have the Word of God dwell among us in all wisdom.
Here Paul briefly overthrows the vociferous practices of the churches
and monasteries where so much preaching and reading obtain while at
the same time the Gospel is not understood. He seems to have foreseen
the coming time when the Word of God should freely prevail, but with
no resulting wisdom; the time when men should daily increase in
ignorance and fanaticism until they should become mere dolts, so
completely void of wisdom as to call vociferation and boasting divine
worship, and to regard that preaching the salvation of souls.

28. What it is to teach and to admonish has been frequently explained.
Here Paul makes the duty of instruction common to all
Christians--"teaching and admonishing one another." That is, aside
from the regular office of preaching, each is to teach himself and
others, thus making everyday use of the Word of God, publicly and
privately, generally and specially.

29. As I see it, the apostle's distinction of the three words--psalms,
hymns and spiritual songs--is this: "psalms" properly indicates those
productions of David and others constituting the Book of Psalms;
"hymns" refers to the songs of the prophets occasionally mentioned in
the Scriptures--songs of Moses, Deborah, Solomon, Isaiah, Daniel,
Habakkuk, with the Magnificat, the Benediction, and the like, called
"Canticles"; "spiritual songs" are those not written in the Scriptures
but of daily origin with men. Paul calls these latter "spiritual" to a
greater degree than psalms and hymns, though he recognizes those as
themselves spiritual. He forbids worldly, sensual and unbecoming
songs, desiring us to sing of spiritual things. It is then that our
songs are calculated to benefit and instruct, as he says.

30. But what is the significance of Paul's phrase "with grace"? I
offer the explanation that he refers to the grace of God and means
that the singing of spiritual songs is to be voluntary, uncompelled,
spontaneous, rendered with cheerfulness and prompted by love; not
extorted by authority and law, as is the singing in our churches
today. No one sings, preaches or prays from a recognition of mercy and
grace received. The motive is a hope for gain, or a fear of
punishment, injury and shame; or again, the holiest individuals bind
themselves to obedience, or are driven to it, for the sake of winning
heaven, and not at all to further the knowledge of the Word of
God--the understanding of it richly and in all wisdom, as Paul desires
it to be understood. I imagine Paul has in mind the charm of music and
the beauty of poetry incident to song. He says in Ephesians 4, 29:
"Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but such as is good
for edifying as the need may be, that it may give grace to them that
hear." Likewise should songs be calculated to bring grace and favor to
them who hear. Foul, unchaste and superfluous words have no place
therein, nor have any inappropriate elements, elements void of
significance and without virtue and life. Hymns are to be rich in
meaning, to be pleasing and sweet, and thus productive of enjoyment
for all hearers. The singing of such songs is very properly called in
Hebrew singing "with grace," as Paul has it. Of this character of
songs are the psalms and hymns of the Scriptures; they are good
thoughts presented in pleasing words. Some songs, though expressed in
charming words, are worldly and carnal; while others presenting good
thoughts are at the same time expressed in words inappropriate,
unattractive and devoid of grace.

"Singing with grace in your hearts unto God."

31. Paul does not enjoin silence of the lips. He would have words of
the mouth proceed from the heart sincerely and fervently; not
hypocritically, as Isaiah mentions (ch. 29, 13), saying: "This people
draw nigh unto me, and with their mouth and with their lips do honor
me, but have removed their heart far from me." Paul would have the
Word of God to dwell among Christians generally, and richly to be
spoken, sung and meditated upon everywhere; and that understandingly
and productive of spiritual fruit, the Word being universally prized.
He would that men thus sing unto the Lord heartfelt praise and thanks.
He says let the Word "dwell" among you. Not merely lodge as a guest
for a night or two, but abide with you forever. He is constantly
apprehensive of human doctrines.

"And whatsoever ye do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the
Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

32. The works of Christians are not circumscribed by name, time nor
place. Whatever Christians do is good; whenever done it is timely;
wherever wrought it is appropriately. So Paul names no work. He makes
no distinction, but concludes all works good, whether it be eating or
drinking, speaking or keeping silence, waking or sleeping, going or
staying, being idle or otherwise. All acts are eminently worthy
because done in the name of the Lord Jesus. Such is Paul's teaching
here. And our works are wrought in the name of the Lord Jesus when we
by faith hold fast the fact that Christ is in us and we in him in the
sense that we no longer labor but he lives and works in us. Paul says
(Gal 2, 20), "It is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me."
But when we do a work as of ourselves, then it is wrought in our own
name and there is nothing good about it.

33. The expression "in the name of God," or "Go in the name of Jesus,"
is frequently uttered falsely and in cheer hypocrisy. The saying is,
"All misfortunes rise in the name of God." For teachers of false
doctrines habitually offer their commodities in the name of God. They
even come in the name of Christ, as he himself foretells. Mt 24, 24.
To sincerely and earnestly speak and work in Jesus' name, necessarily
the heart must accord with the utterances of the mouth. As the lips
declare in the name of God, so must the heart confidently, with firm
faith, hold that God directs and performs the work. Peter teaches the
same (1 Pet 4, 11): "If any man ministereth [perform anything],
ministering as of the strength which God supplieth." Then will the
venture prosper. No Christian should undertake to do any deed in his
own ability and directed by his own judgment. Rather let him be
assured that God works with and through him. Paul says (1 Cor 9, 26):
"I therefore so run, as not uncertainly; so fight I, as not beating
the air."

34. Such an attitude will result in praise and thanks to God as the
one to whom are due all honor and praise for every good thing. So Paul
teaches and also Peter. Immediately after declaring that we are to
work according to the ability which God gives, Peter adds "that in all
things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ." But he who
undertakes anything in his own ability, however he may glorify God
with his lips, lies and deceives, like the hypocrite in the Gospel.
Thankfulness, therefore, is the only duty we can perform unto God; and
this is not to be rendered of ourselves, but through our Mediator,
Jesus. Without him none can come to the Father, none can be accepted.
Of this fact we have often spoken.



_Third Sunday Before Lent_

Text: First Corinthians 9, 24-27; 10, 1-5.

24 Know ye not that they that run in a race run all, but one receiveth
the prize? Even so run; that ye may attain. 25 And every man that
striveth in the games exerciseth self-control in all things. Now they
do it to receive a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26 I
therefore so run, as not uncertainly; so fight I, as not beating the
air: 27 but I buffet my body, and bring it into bondage: lest by any
means, after that I have preached to others, I myself should be
rejected. 1 For I would not, brethren, have you ignorant, that our
fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2
and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 and
did all eat the same spiritual food; 4 and did all drink the same
spiritual drink: for they drank of a spiritual rock that followed
them: and the rock was Christ. 5 Howbeit with most of them God was not
well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.


THE CHRISTIAN RACE FOR THE PRIZE.

1. This lesson is a part of the long four-chapter instruction Paul
gives the Corinthians. Therein he teaches them how to deal with those
weak in the faith, and warns rash, presumptuous Christians to take
heed lest they fall, however they may stand at the present. He
presents a forcible simile in the running of the race, or the strife
for the prize. Many run without obtaining the object of their pursuit.
But we should not vainly run. To faithfully follow Christ does not
mean simply to run. That will not suffice. We must run to the purpose.
To believe, to be running in Christ's course, is not sufficient; we
must lay hold on eternal life. Christ says (Mt 24, 13), "But he that
endureth to the end, the same shall be saved." And Paul (1 Cor 10,
12), "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he
fall."

2. Now, running is hindered in two ways; for one, by indolence. When
faith is not strenuously exercised, when we are indolent in good
works, our progress is hindered, so that the prize is not attained.
But to such hindrance I do not think Paul here refers. He is not
alluding to those who indolently run, but to them who run in vain
because missing their object; individuals, for instance, who pursue
their aim at full speed, but, deluded by a phantom, miss their aim and
rush to ruin or run up against fearful obstacles. Hence Paul enjoins
men to run successfully while in the race, that they may seize the
prize and not lose it by default. In consequence the race is hindered
when a false goal is set up or the true one removed. The apostle says
(Col 2, 18), "Let no man rob you of your prize." It is true, however,
that an indolent, negligent life will eventually bring about loss of
the prize. While men sleep, the enemy very soon sows tares among the
wheat.

3. The goal is removed when the Word of God is falsified and creations
of the human mind are preached under the name of God's Word. And these
things readily come about when we are not careful to keep the unity of
the Spirit, when each follows his own ideas and yields to no other,
because he prefers his own conceit.

Such must be the course of events where love is lacking. The strong
and the learned desire to be looked upon as peculiarly commendable,
while the weak in the faith are despised. Thus the devil has abundant
opportunity to sow tares. Paul calls love the unity of the Spirit, and
admonishes (Eph 4, 3) that we endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit
in the bond of peace. In Second Thessalonians 2, 10 he proclaims the
coming of Antichrist "because they received not the love of the
truth"; that is, true love.

"And every man that striveth in the games [that striveth for the
mastery]."

4. Were he who competes in a race to attempt other things or to make a
success of other matters at the same time, he would not gain much;
rather he would soon be defeated, lose the race and everything. If he
would truly strive, he must attend to no other thing. All else must be
neglected and attention centered upon the contest alone. Even then the
winner must have fortune's favor; for they who neglect all to run do
not all gain the prize.

Likewise in the Christian contest it is necessary, and in an even
higher degree, to renounce everything and to devote oneself only to
the contest. He who would in addition seek his own glory and profit,
who would find in the Word and Spirit of God occasion for his own
praise and advantage after the manner of the dissenters and
schismatics--what can such a one expect to win? He is wholly entangled
in temporal glory and gain; bound hand and foot, a complete captive.
The race he runs is the mere dream race of one lying upon his couch an
indolent captive.

"I therefore so run, as not uncertainly; so fight I, as not beating
the air."

5. Paul here points to himself as exemplar and hints at the cause of
failure, viz., lapse from love and the use of the divine word in a
wilful, ambitious and covetous spirit, whereas the faith which worketh
by love is lacking. Under such conditions, false and indolent
Christians run indeed a merry race; yet God's Word and ways in which
they are so alert and speedy are merely a show, because they make them
subserve their own interests and glory. They fail, however, to see
that they race uncertainly and beat the air. They never make a serious
attempt, nor do they ever hit the mark. While it is theirs to mortify
ambition, to restrain their self-will and to enlist in the service of
their neighbors, they do none of these things. On the contrary, they
even do many things to strengthen their ambition and self-will, and
then they swear by a thousand oaths that they are seeking not their
own honor but the honor of God, their neighbor's welfare and not their
own.

Peter says (2 Pet 1, 9-10) this class are blind and cannot see afar
and have forgotten they were purged from their old sins, because they
fail to make their calling sure by good works. Therefore, it comes
about that, as Paul says, they run uncertainly, beating the air. Their
hearts are unstable and wavering before God, and they are changeable
and fickle in all their ways, James 1, 8. Since they are aimless and
inconstant at heart, this will appear likewise as inconstancy in
regard to works and doctrines. They undertake now this and now that;
they cannot be quiet nor refrain from factional strife. Thus they miss
their aim or else remove the goal, and cannot but deviate from the
true and common path.

"But I buffet [keep under] my body, and bring it into bondage
[subjection]."

6. The apostle's thought is the same as in his statement above, "Every
man that striveth in the games exerciseth self-control in all things."
By "keeping under the body" Paul means, not only subduing the carnal
lusts, but every temporal object as well, in so far as it appeals to
bodily desire--love of honor, fame, wealth and the like. He who gives
license to these things instead of subduing them will preach to his
own condemnation, however correct his preaching be. Such do not permit
the truth to be presented; this is true particularly of temporal
honor. These words of the apostle, then, are a fine thrust at
ambitious and self-centered preachers and Christians. Not only do they
run in vain and fight to no purpose; they become actual castaways with
only the semblance--the color--of Christianity.


EXAMPLES FROM SCRIPTURE.

"For I would not, brethren, have you ignorant, that our fathers were
all under the cloud."

7. Paul cites a terrible example from Scripture to prove that not all
obtain the prize who run. There were about six hundred thousand of
them, all of whom walked in the way of God and enjoyed his word and
his confidence so completely as to be protected under the cloud and
miraculously to pass through the sea; yet among the vast number who
ran at that time only two, Joshua and Caleb, obtained the prize. They
alone of all that multitude reached the promised land.

Later on in the chapter (verses 11-12) Paul explains this fact,
saying: "Now these things happened unto them by way of example; and
they were written for our admonition ... wherefore let him that
thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." The design of these
dealings of God with Israel is to terrify the pride, false wisdom and
self-will; to deter men from despising their fellows and from seeking
to make the Word of God minister to their own honor or profit in
preference to the honor and profit of others. The intent is to have
each individual put himself on an equality with others, each to bear
with his fellow, the weak enduring the strong, and so on, as enjoined
in the four chapters.

8. How many great and noble men may have been among the six hundred
thousand, men to whom we would have been unworthy to hand a cup of
water! They included the twelve princes of the twelve tribes, one of
whom, Nahshon, Matthew (ch. 1, 4) numbers in the holy lineage of
Christ. There were also the seventy elders who shared in the spirit of
Moses, Eldad and Medad in particular (Num 11, 27), and all the other
great men aside from the faction of Korah. All these, mark you, strove
in the race. They did and suffered much. They witnessed many miracles
of God. They aided in erecting a grand tabernacle and in instituting
divine worship. They were full of good works. Yet they failed, and
died in the wilderness. Who is so daring and haughty he will not be
restrained and humbled by so remarkable an example of divine judgment?
Well may it be said, "Let him that ... standeth take heed lest he
fall."

9. Well, the example of Israel is one readily understood. God grant we
may heed it! Let us examine the apostle's text yet further--his
mention of baptism and spiritual food, using Christian terms and
placing the fathers upon the same plane with us Christians, as if they
also had had Baptism and the Holy Supper.

He would have us know, first, the oft-repeated fact that God from the
beginning led, redeemed and saved his saints by two
instrumentalities--by his own word and external signs. Adam was saved
by the word of promise (Gen 3, 15): The seed of the woman shall bruise
the serpent's head; that is, Christ shall come to conquer sin, death
and Satan for us. To this promise God added the sign of sacrifice,
sacrifice kindled with fire from heaven, as in Abel's case (Gen 4, 4),
and in other cases mentioned in the Scriptures. The word of promise
was Adam's Gospel until the time of Noah and of Abraham. In this
promise all the saints down to Abraham believed, and were redeemed; as
we are redeemed by the word of the Gospel which we believe. The fire
from heaven served them as a sign, as baptism does us, which is added
to the word of God.

10. Such signs were repeated again and again at various times, the
last sign being given by Christ in his own person--the Gospel with
baptism, granted to all nations. For instance, God gave Noah the
promise that he should survive the flood, and granted him a sign in
the ship, or ark, he built. And by faith in the promise and sign Noah
was justified and saved, with his family. Afterward God gave him
another promise, and for a sign the rainbow. Again, he gave Abraham a
promise, with the sign of circumcision. Circumcision was Abraham's
baptism, just as the ark and the flood were that of Noah. So also our
baptism is to us circumcision, ark and flood, according to Peter's
explanation. 1 Pet 3, 21. Everywhere we meet the Word and the Sign of
God, in which we must believe in order to be saved through faith from
sin and death.

11. Thus the children of Israel had God's word that they should
inherit the promised land. In addition to that word they were given
many signs, in particular those Paul here names--the sea, the cloud,
the bread from heaven, the water from the rock. These he calls their
baptism; just as our baptism might be called our sea and cloud. Faith
and the Spirit are the same everywhere, though the signs and the words
vary. Signs and words indeed change from time to time, but faith in
the one and same God continues. Through various signs and revelations,
God at different times bestows the same faith and the same Spirit,
effecting through these in all saints remission of sins, redemption
from death, and salvation, whether they lived in the beginning or at
the end of time, or while time progressed.

12. Such is Paul's meaning when he says the fathers did eat the same
meat, and drink the same drink as we. He, however, qualifies with the
word "spiritual." Externally and individually Israel had signs and
revelations different from ours; but the Spirit and their faith in
Christ was identical with our own. Spiritual eating and drinking is
simply believing in God's Word and sign. Christ says (Jn 6, 56), "He
that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me, and I in
him." And in the preceding verse, "My flesh is meat indeed, and my
blood is drink indeed." That is, He that believeth in me shall live.

"For they drank of a spiritual rock that followed them."

13. In other words, they believed in the same Christ in whom we
believe, though he was yet to come in the flesh; and the sign of their
faith was the material rock, from which they physically drank water,
just as we in partaking of the material bread and wine at the altar
spiritually eat and drink the true Christ. With the outward act of
eating and drinking we exercise inward faith. Had the Israelites not
possessed the word of God and faith as they drank from the rock, the
act of drinking would not have benefited their souls. Neither would it
profit us to receive bread and wine at the altar if we were without
faith. Indeed, had not the Word of God come first, the rock would not
have yielded water and command faith. Likewise, if God's Word did not
accompany bread and wine, they would not be spiritual food nor
exercise faith.

14. So it is ever the same spiritual meat and drink which God embodies
in his word and sign, whatever its material and external form may be.
Were he to command me to lift up a mere straw, immediately the straw
would hold for me spiritual food and drink. Not because of any virtue
in the straw, but because it is a revelation and sign of the divine
truth and presence. Again, if God's Word and his sign be lacking or
unrecognized, the very presence of God himself has no effect. Christ
says of himself (Jn 6, 63), "The flesh profiteth nothing." He makes
that statement because his hearers pay no heed to the words in which
he speaks of his flesh, though it is these which make his body the
true meat, according to his declaration (v. 58), "This is the bread
which came down out of heaven." Therefore we are not to regard unduly,
as blind reason does, the works, signs and miracles of God; rather we
are to recognize his message therein. This is the act of faith.

15. The apostle refers to a single type--the rock, saying: "They drank
of a spiritual rock that followed them: and the rock was Christ." By
this statement he makes all the figures and signs granted to the
people of Israel by the Word of God refer to Christ; for where the
Word of God is, there Christ is. All the words and promises of God are
concerning Christ. Christ himself refers the serpent of Moses to
himself, giving it a typical significance, Jn 3, 14. We may truly say
the Israelites looked upon the same serpent we behold, for they saw
the spiritual serpent that followed them, or Christ on the cross.
Their beholding was believing in the Word of God, with the serpent for
a sign; even as their spiritual drinking was believing in the Word of
God with the rock for a sign. Without the Word of God, the serpent
could have profited them nothing; nor could brazen serpents
innumerable, had the Israelites gazed upon them forever. Likewise the
rock would have profited them nothing without the word of God; they
might have crushed to powder all the rocks of the world or drank from
them to no purpose.

16. According to the general principle here laid down by Paul, by
using the rock as illustration, we may say the Israelites partook of
the same bread of heaven whereof we eat; and they ate of the spiritual
bread of heaven which followed them--Christ. With them, eating was
believing in the Word of God, while they had for their sign the bread
from heaven whereof they physically partook. Had not this Word
accompanied the bread, it would have been simply material food,
incapable of profiting the soul or calling forth faith. Christ says
(Jn 6, 32), "It was not Moses that gave you the bread out of heaven;
but my Father giveth you the true bread out of heaven." And (verse
58), "Not as the fathers ate [manna], and died." Even Moses says (Deut
8, 3), "And fed thee with manna ... that he might make thee know that
man doth not live by bread only, but by everything that proceedeth out
of the mouth of Jehovah."

In other words, "In the material manna you must not merely see the
work--the act of satisfying the appetite--but much rather the word of
promise bringing you the bread of heaven; for by that word you live
forever if you have faith."

17. We may say the same concerning the sea and the cloud. The children
of Israel walked under the same cloud that shadows us; that means,
they walked under the spiritual cloud that followed them--Christ.
Otherwise expressed, walking under the cloud was simply believing in
the word of God, the word they had in their hearts, which told them to
follow the cloud. Without that word they would have been unable to
believe or to follow; indeed, with the word lacking, the cloud would
never have appeared. Therefore, the cloud was called the glory of the
Lord whose appearance had been promised.

So we see how we must in all things have regard to the word of God. To
it faith must attach itself. Without it, either there are no signs and
works of God, or else, existing, and regarded with the physical eyes
only, without reference to the Word, they cause one to open his mouth
in wonderment for a while like everything else which is new, but they
do not profit the soul nor do they appeal to faith.

18. Some take the words "which followed them" to mean that the
spiritual rock accompanied the children of Israel, companioning with
them--"comitante petra," not "petra consequente," Christ being
spiritually present in the word and by faith. This view they endeavor
to base upon the Greek text. I have rendered it: "the rock following."
The point is not worth contention. Let each understand it as he may.
Both interpretations given are correct. I hold to what I have offered
because all the circumstances of the incident, and earlier words of
God, pointed to a future Christ, a Christ who should follow, in whom
they should all believe. Thus Abraham saw behind him the ram in the
thicket and took and sacrificed him; that is, he believed in the
Christ who afterward should come and be sacrificed.

19. Again, some say the common noun in the clause "and the rock was
Christ" means the material rock; and since Christ cannot be material
rock they explain the inconsistency by saying the rock signifies
Christ. They here make the word "was" equivalent to "signifies." The
same reasoning they apply to certain words of Christ; for instance,
they say where Christ, referring to the Holy Supper (Mt 26, 26),
commands, "Take, eat; this is my body"--they say the meaning is, "This
bread signifies, but is not truly, my body." They would thereby deny
that the bread is the body of Christ. In the same manner do they deal
with the text (Jn 15, 1) "I am the true vine," in making it "I am
signified by the vine." Beware of such reasoners. Their own malice has
led them to such perverting of Scripture. Paul here expressly
distinguishes between material and spiritual rocks, saying: "They
drank of a spiritual rock that followed them: and the rock was
Christ." He does not say the material rock was Christ, but the
spiritual rock. The material rock was not spiritual, and did not
follow or go with them.

20. The explanations and distortions of such false reasoners are not
needed here. The words are true as they read; they are to be
understood in substance and not figuratively. So in John 15, 1,
Christ's reference is not to a material but a spiritual vine. How
would this read, "I am signified by a spiritual vine"? Christ is
speaking of that which exists, and must so be understood--"I am"; here
is a true spiritual vine. Similar is John 6, 55, "My flesh is meat
indeed." The thought is not, "My flesh signifies, or is signified by,
true meat"; spiritual meat is spoken of and the meaning is, "My flesh
is substantially a food; not for the stomach, physically, but for the
soul, spiritually." Neither must you permit the words "This is my
body" to be perverted to mean that the body is but signified by the
bread, as some pretend; you must accept the words precisely as they
mean--"This bread is essentially, by a real presence, my body." The
forcing of Scripture to meet one's own opinions cannot be tolerated. A
clear text proving that the infinitive "to be" is equivalent to
"signify" would be needed; and, even though this might be proven in a
few instances, it would not suffice. It would still have to be
indisputably shown true in the place in question. This can never be
done. Now, the proposition being impossible, we must surrender to the
Word of God and accept it as it stands.

21. Christ has been typified by various signs and objects in the Old
Testament, and the rock is one of them. Note first, the material rock
spoken of had place independently of man's labor and far from man's
domain, in the wilderness, in desolate solitude. So Christ is a truly
insignificant object in the world, disregarded, unnoticed; nor is he
indebted to human labor.

22. Further, water flowing from the rock is contrary to nature; it is
purely miraculous. The water typifies the quickening spirit of God,
who proceeds from the condemned, crucified and dead Christ. Thus life
is drawn from death, and this by the power of God. Christ's death is
our life, and if we would live we must die with him.

23. Moses strikes the rock at the command of God and points to it,
thus prefiguring the ministerial office which by word of mouth strikes
from the spiritual rock the Spirit. For God will give his Spirit to
none without the instrumentality of the Word and the ministerial
office instituted by him for this purpose, adding the command that
nothing be preached but Christ. Had not Moses obeyed the command of
God to smite the rock with his rod, no water would ever have flowed
therefrom. His rod represents rod of the mouth whereof Isaiah speaks
(ch. 11, 4): "He shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth; and
with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked." "A sceptre of
equity is the sceptre of thy kingdom." Ps 45, 6.



_Second Sunday Before Lent_

Text: Second Corinthians 11, 19-33; 12, 1-9.

19 For ye bear with the foolish gladly, being wise yourselves. 20 For
ye bear with a man, if he bringeth you into bondage, if he devoureth
you, if he taketh you captive, if he exalteth himself, if he smiteth
you on the face. 21 I speak by way of disparagement, as though we had
been weak. Yet whereinsoever any is bold (I speak in foolishness), I
am bold also. 22 Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am
I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. 23 Are they ministers of
Christ? (I speak as one beside himself) I more; in labors more
abundantly, in prisons more abundantly, in stripes above measure, in
deaths oft. 24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save
one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I
suffered shipwreck, a night and a day have I been in the deep; 26 in
journeyings often, in perils of rivers, in perils of robbers, in
perils from my countrymen, in perils from the Gentiles, in perils in
the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils
among false brethren; 27 in labor and travail, in watchings often, in
hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28
Besides those things that are without, there is that which presseth
upon me daily, anxiety for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am
not weak? who is caused to stumble, and I burn not? 30 If I must needs
glory, I will glory of the things that concern my weakness. 31 The God
and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed for evermore knoweth
that I lie not. 32 In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king
guarded the city of the Damascenes in order to take me: 33 and through
a window was I let down in a basket by the wall, and escaped his
hands.

1 I must needs glory, though it is not expedient; but I will come to
visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ,
fourteen years ago (whether in the body, I know not; or whether out of
the body, I know not; God knoweth), such a one caught up even to the
third heaven. 3 And I know such a man (whether in the body, or apart
from the body, I know not; God knoweth), 4 how that he was caught up
into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for
a man to utter. 5 On behalf of such a one will I glory: but on mine
own behalf I will not glory, save in my weakness. 6 For if I should
desire to glory, I shall not be foolish; for I shall speak the truth:
but I forbear, lest any man should account of me above that which he
seeth me to be, or heareth from me. 7 And by reason of the exceeding
greatness of the revelations, that I should not be exalted overmuch,
there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to
buffet me, that I should not be exalted overmuch. 8 Concerning this
thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9 And
he hath said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my power is
made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in
my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.


PAUL'S GLORY IN HIS LABOR AND SUFFERING.

1. They who praise themselves are fools according to the views and
speech of the world. The saying is, "Self-praise is unsavory." It is
forbidden by Solomon in Proverbs 27, 2: "Let another man praise thee,
and not thine own mouth." And Christ says (Jn 8, 54), "If I glorify
myself, my glory is nothing." Paul acknowledges that he had to become
a fool, something for which he had no desire, by reason of the
necessity laid upon him to praise himself. The false apostles, as
false spirits habitually do, delivered great, fine, splendid speeches
to the multitude, in their vainglorious attempt to raise themselves
above Paul, thereby to make contemptible and insignificant that
apostle and his doctrine.

2. Paul was little concerned that he personally should be lightly
esteemed and the false apostles highly honored, but he could not bear
to have the Gospel perish in that way and his Corinthian converts
seduced. Therefore he exerts himself to the utmost, at the risk of
becoming a fool by his boasting. But he, in his strong spiritual
wisdom, glories in a masterly manner, and skilfully puts to shame the
boasts of the false apostles.

First, he shows them he can glory in the very things wherein they
glory, and in even more. At the same time he declares himself a fool
for glorying. He might have said: "Foolish, indeed, are they, and
boorish creatures, who glory in themselves. They should feel shame to
the very depth of their heart. No true, sane man boasts of what he is.
The wicked and the frivolous do that." But the apostle's attack is not
quite so severe and harsh. He addresses them civilly and delicately in
that he makes himself appear a fool, as if to say: "Look! how becoming
self-praise is in myself, although I have grounds for my glorying. But
how much more disgraceful for you to boast when perhaps none of your
claims are true." So Paul wears the foolscap, that those coarse fools
might have a mirror in which to behold their real selves. This is
wisely making foolishness minister to the good of the neighbor and to
the honor of the Gospel. To the just, even folly is wisdom, just as
all things are pure and holy unto him.

3. Second, Paul deals the false apostles a stout blow when he shows
them to be ignorant of the grounds in which a true Christian seeks his
glory. For, as he teaches them, a Christian glories in the things
whereof other men are ashamed--in the cross and in his sufferings.
This is the true art of glorying. To this he refers when he says (Gal
6, 14), "Far be it from me to glory, save in the cross of our Lord
Jesus Christ." But the false apostles are careful to avoid glorying
thus; for they flee with alacrity from reproach and affliction, rather
seeking a life of ease and honor. They ever would have prominence over
their fellows, be superior to and unlike others--certain indication
that they lack the right spirit and are not of God. Christ testifies
(Jn 5, 44), "How can ye believe, who receive glory one of another, and
the glory that cometh from the only God ye seek not?"

4. The main point of this lesson is that in a preacher or a teacher no
vice is more injurious and venomous than vainglory. It is true,
however, that avarice also is an evil characteristic of false
teachers, being found hand in hand with vainglory. For the sake of
profit, for the purpose of gain, the false teachers aspire to
prominence, to honor and position. With them, nothing but current coin
will pass, and what does not pay dividend is unprofitable. Any other
vice is more endurable in a preacher than these two, though none is
compatible with goodness, blamelessness and perfection being required
in the ministry according to Paul, Titus 1, 7. This is not surprising,
for the two vices under consideration are essentially and directly
opposed to the nature of the ministry. The ministry is ordained to
have as its aim the glory of God and its promotion. Psalm 19, 1
affirms, "The heavens declare the glory of God." And ministers must,
for God's glory, suffer reproach and shame. Jeremiah complains (ch.
20, 8), "The word of Jehovah is made a reproach unto me, and a
derision, all the day." The world will not endure the Word. For him
who in preaching seeks his own honor, it is impossible to remain in
the right path and preach the pure Gospel. Consequently he avoids
striving for God's honor; he must preach what pleases the people, what
brings honor to himself and magnifies his skill and wisdom.

5. Avarice, too, is, according to its very nature, opposed to the
interests of the ministry. Just as the ministry is to be devoted to
God's honor at the expense of our own, so is it to be devoted to the
interests of our neighbor and not to our own. Otherwise it is an
injury rather than a benefit. With the false teacher seeking only his
own good, it is impossible for him to preach the truth. He is
compelled to speak what is pleasing to men in order to gratify his
appetites. Therefore Paul (Rom 16, 18) says of such preachers that
they serve their own bellies. And in many places the Scriptures
reprove avarice. Let him, then, who would be a preacher guard
vigilantly against vainglory and avarice. But, should he feel himself
in the clutch of these sins, let him avoid the ministry. For under
such conditions he will accomplish no good; he will only dishonor God,
seduce souls and be a thief and robber in the acquisition of property.
With this explanation, the lesson is now easily understood, but we
will consider a few points.

"For ye bear with the foolish gladly, being wise yourselves."

6. Paul commends the Corinthians for their patience and wisdom in six
points: as wise men, they cheerfully endure the foolish; they bear
with those who bring them into bondage and oppress them; with those
who devour them; with those who take from them [or take them captive];
with those who exalt themselves; with those who smite them in the
face. But his commendation is meant to pave the way for his folly--to
prepare them to suffer him the more readily. He would say, "Since you
suffer so much from them who injure you--and you are wise in that--I
trust you will bear with me who have wrought you only good, when I act
the fool for a little; particularly when my object in it is your
good--to preserve the Gospel among you in opposition to the false
apostles." Note how tenderly and patiently he deals with the
Corinthians when he might have severely reproved them for tolerating
the false apostles. He commends them as does a father a timid child,
and yet, while commending them he censures both them and their false
teachers. He handles them as tenderly as if he held a raw egg in his
hand, in order not to distract or terrify them.

7. Paul delivers a masterly stroke when with the same words he praises
the Corinthians and rebukes them and their false apostles. His
commendation of their patience is in reality reproof, blows and wounds
for the false teachers. He would say:

"I have preached the Gospel to you at my own expense and jeopardy. By
my labor have ye attained to its blessing. Ye have done nothing for me
in return, and I have been no tax upon you. Now, upon my departure,
others come and exploit you, and seek honor and profit from my labor.
They would be your masters and I am to be ignored. They boast as if
the accomplishment were all theirs. Of these ye must be disciples and
pupils. Their preaching ye must accept, while my Gospel must become
odious. My case is that of the bee who labors to make honey and then
the idle drones and the earthworms come and consume the sweet not of
their making. In me is illustrated Christ's proverb (Jn 4, 37), 'one
soweth, and another reapeth.' Continually one enters into the fruits
of another's labor. One must toil and incur danger, while another
reaps the benefit in security.

8. "Ye can suffer these false apostles, though they be fools and teach
only foolishness. In this ye display wisdom and patience. But ye do
not so suffer me, who taught you true wisdom. Nor do ye permit me much
enjoyment of my labor. Further, ye can permit them to make servants of
you, to be your lords and to order you to do their bidding. And ye
obey. But I who have made myself your servant, I who have served you
without profit to myself, that ye might be lords with Christ, must now
be ignored and all my labors be lost. They rule you at their pleasure,
and their pleasure is all they consult. You suffer yourselves to be
devoured. That is, your property is consumed; for ye bestow it upon
them abundantly, as Psalm 14, 4 has it, 'Who eat up my people.' Upon
such as these ye can shower goods and gifts, and can permit them to
devour you as they please. But I have never enjoyed aught of your
property. All my service has been without recompense, that ye might
become rich in Christ.

"Again, ye suffer the false teachers to take from you beyond your
consent; to exalt themselves above you, to esteem themselves better
than you and me, and to exercise their arrogance upon you. But ye deal
not so with me, who have sacrificed my own substance, and have taken
from others, that I might bring the Gospel to you; who have not
exalted myself above any, but have yielded to all and served them. The
false apostles permit you to serve them; in fact, trample you beneath
their feet. They even smite you in the face; that is, they reproach
you publicly, put you to shame, and abuse you with rude and insolent
words. They act as if ye were beasts of burden and they your real
masters. All this ye suffer. But my patience with you, my parental
tenderness, past and present, is remembered no more. Paul is now
represented as having wrought no good at Corinth."


PAUL'S DESCRIPTION OF FALSE TEACHERS.

9. Note the master hand wherewith Paul portrays the character of false
teachers, showing how they betray their avarice and ambition. First,
they permit true teachers to lay the foundation and perform the labor;
then they come and desire to do the work over, to reap the honors and
the benefits. They bring about that the name and the work of the true
teachers receive no regard and credit; what they themselves have
brought--that is the thing. They make the poor, simple-minded people
to stare open-mouthed while they win them with flowery words and
seduce them with fair speeches, as mentioned in Romans 16, 18. These
are the idle drones that consume the honey they will not and cannot
make. That this was the condition of affairs at Corinth is very clear
from this epistle--indeed, from both epistles. Paul continually refers
to others having followed him and built upon the foundation he has
laid. Messengers of the devil, he terms them.

10. And such false teachers have the good fortune that all their folly
is tolerated, even though the people realize how these act the fool,
and rather rudely at that. They have success with it all, and people
bear with them. But no patience is to be exercised toward true
teachers! Their words and their works are watched with the intent of
entrapping them, as complained of in Psalm 17, 9 and elsewhere. When
only apparently a mote is found, it is exaggerated to a very great
beam. No toleration is granted. There is only judgment, condemnation
and scorn. Hence the office of preaching is a grievous one. He who has
not for his sole motive the benefit of his neighbor and the glory of
God, cannot continue therein. The true teacher must labor, and permit
others to have the honor and profit of his efforts, while he receives
injury and derision for his reward. Here the saying holds true: "To
love without guerdon, nor wearying of the burden." Only the Spirit of
God can inspire such love. To flesh and blood it is impossible. Paul
here scores the false prophets when he says, "Ye suffer fools gladly";
in other words, "I know the false preachers often act as fools, nor
can they help it, because their teaching is false; yet ye excuse
them."

11. In the second place such teachers are disposed to bring the people
into downright bondage and to bind their conscience by forcing laws
upon them and teaching work-righteousness. The effect is that fear
impels them to do what has been pounded into them, as if they were
bond-slaves, while their teachers command fear and attention. But the
true teachers, they who give us freedom of conscience and create us
lords, we soon forget, even despise. The dominion of false teachers is
willingly tolerated and patiently endured; indeed, it is given high
repute. All those conditions are punishments sent by God upon them who
do not receive the Gospel with love and gratitude. Christ says (Jn 5,
43): "I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another
shall come in his own name, him ye shall receive." The Pope, with his
spiritual office, became our lord, and we became his captives, through
his doctrine of human works. And our present-day schismatics pursue
the same object with their fanciful doctrine concerning their works.

12. In the third place, false teachers flay their disciples to the
bone, and cut them out of house and home, but even this is taken and
endured. Such, I opine, has been our experience under the Papacy. But
true preachers are even denied their bread. Yet this all perfectly
squares with justice! For, since men fail to give unto those from whom
they receive the Word of God, and permit the latter to serve them at
their own expense, it is but fair they should give the more unto
preachers of lies, whose instruction redounds to their injury. What is
withheld from Christ must be given in tenfold proportion to the devil.
They who refuse to give the servant of the truth a single thread, must
be oppressed by liars.

13. Fourth, false apostles forcibly take more than is given them. They
seize whatever and whenever they can, thus enhancing their insatiable
avarice. This, too, is excused in them. Thus, the great establishments
of the Pope did not suffice for him; with various artifices, bulls,
laws and indulgences, he has brought under his power land and people
and all they possess, exhausting the world by usury. And so it should
be, for this state of affairs was richly deserved by men for despising
the Gospel and its preachers.

14. Fifth, these deceitful teachers, not satisfied with having
acquired our property, must exalt themselves above us and lord it over
us. Not only do they possess all property, but they must for that very
reason become our superiors; must have precedence and receive honor.
We bow our knees before them, worship them and kiss their feet. And we
suffer it all, yes, with fearful reverence regard it just and right.
And it is just and right, for why did we not honor the Gospel by
accepting and preserving it?

15. Sixth, our false apostles justly reward us by smiting us in the
face. That is, they consider us inferior to dogs; they abuse us, and
treat us as foot-rags. I venture to say we became sensible of such
treatment when, under the Papacy, we were readily put in the van,
cursed, condemned and delivered to the devil. We endured it all,
suffered most patiently, and yielded up property, honor, body and
soul. Fault in a sincere teacher, however, could by no means be
tolerated. Very well, then; God is just, and it is his judgment that
we must honor the messengers of Satan a thousand times more than his
own, and do and suffer everything.

"I speak by way of disparagement [speak as concerning reproach], as
though we had been weak."

16. There are two ways of interpreting this sentence: First, as
meaning: "I speak as one of the weak whose folly you must endure; for
which I deserve reproach, since I ought to bear with you." From such
meaning I to this day have seen no cause to swerve. The other
interpretation is: "I speak as one reproached--after the manner of the
weak." Or, more fully expressed: "I can speak in two ways of myself
and my class: First, with honor, because of our strength in the sight
of God and the spiritually-minded, worthy of honor, noble; not weak
but strong, able. But I will not at present employ this way, for we
are now despised; we are not known as honorable. And all because of
the false prophets. I will, then, present myself in the other light,
as I am regarded--despised, held in reproach and disrespect, weak and
incapable. But even this condition shall be an occasion of glory for
me; my reproach and weakness is more honorable than their honor, power
and strength. What would my glory be should my actual strength inspire
my speech!" "Weakness," according to Paul's own later interpretation,
implies being regarded worthless, unfit, a failure. The apostle's
meaning, then, is: "I, too, will be one of the boasting fools. You
will excuse it in me for I speak from the standpoint of my critics,
that of a man contemptible, foolish, incompetent. Before God, however,
I feel that I am a quite different being."

17. And recollect, Paul says, "Because ye are wise, ye suffer fools
gladly," implying that one fool cannot tolerate another. The saying
is, "Two fools in one house will not do." Reason and wisdom are
required, to bear with another's infirmities and to excuse them.

"Yet whereinsoever any is bold."

18. That is, in whatever the false apostles can boast, I can likewise
glory. Here we are shown what is the ground of the false apostles'
boasting: their outward respectability--being of Abraham's seed,
children of Israel, Christ's preachers. Therein they think to far
excel the Corinthians, claiming their doctrine and works to be of
greater weight because they have Moses and the prophets for their
teachers. But they failed to perceive that their boast is of mere
externals, that render no one righteous or better before God. The
majority of the Hebrews, of the Israelites, of the seed of Abraham,
and of the preachers of Christ are lost. Names are of no consequence;
they only make a fine show and serve to seduce the simple-minded. Paul
boasts of his origin and yet derides his boasting, calling it fool's
work. His object is to destroy the boasting of the false prophets,
that the people might not be deceived.

19. Note how, even in Paul's time, great men erred concerning the true
sense of the Gospel, and many noble preachers would have estimated
Christian life by a merely external appearance and name. The true
spiritual preachers must have been few. Should it be strange, then,
that in our time sincere preachers are not numerous, and that the
majority of ministers riot in what they themselves seem and do? It
cannot and shall not be otherwise. The thievish drones, which are
prone to riot, let them riot! We will resist to the utmost of our
power, commending the matter to God, who doubtless will grant us
sufficient honor and profit, both temporally and eternally, though we
must labor gratuitously, accepting injury and derision as our reward.
Our adversaries will not long continue their persecutions, for, as
Paul says just preceding our lesson, they will eventually receive
their deserts.

20. Again, Paul boasts of certain temporal afflictions wherein he
excels the false apostles, who suffer nothing, for the sake of either
the word or of souls, but only boast of name and person. Among the
afflictions he mentions, he names having been a night and a day in the
deep. Some refer this allusion to the voyage of which Luke writes
(Acts 27, 20-21), when for fourteen days Paul and his companions ate
nothing and saw never a star, being day and night continually covered
by the surges and waves of the sea. Others think Paul was, like Jonah,
personally sunk into the deep sea, though but for a day and a night.
Such is the clear meaning of the text. Yet others interpret it as
having reference to a prison or dungeon, because the Greek text makes
no mention of the sea--simply "the deep."

"Who is weak, and I am not weak?"

21. Of external afflictions affecting not his own person, but
distressing others, Paul mentions two: he is weak if another is weak,
and burns if another is offended. Thereby he plainly portrays the
ardor of his heart--how full of love he is; the defects and sorrows of
others pain him as his own. By "weakness," I imagine, he means, not
bodily infirmity, but weakness of faith. He refers to those who, young
in the faith, have a tender and frail conscience, thereby betokening
immaturity and feebleness of faith. He says (Rom 14, 2), "He that is
weak eateth herbs"; and in First Corinthians 8, 12, that we sin
against Christ if we wound a weak conscience. These weak ones Paul
does not reject. He receives them and conducts himself as if he, too,
were weak. He asserts (1 Cor 9, 22), "To the weak I became weak, that
I might gain the weak."

22. This interpretation of the sentence is borne out in his allusion
to "that which presseth upon me daily, anxiety for all the churches."
Paul would say: "I exert myself, I have a continual care, I urge and
admonish constantly, that offenses and false doctrine may not invade
and destroy my planting; may not violate and ruin the weak
consciences." As seen in his epistle to the Corinthians, directed
against the false apostles, and in that to the Thessalonians, such is
his vigilant anxiety to guard them from the tempter that he sends them
a special messenger, and he exultingly declares it is life to him to
learn of their steadfastness.

23. Likewise, by the assertion that he burns, we are to understand
that he is exceedingly grieved and pained if one is offended; that is,
if through misleading doctrines or examples one in any wise falls from
the faith. Of the offense to faith, he says much in Romans 14. Not
desiring to be offended with the offended, as he became weak with the
weak, he says: "I burn and sorrow for them."

"I know a man in Christ, fourteen years ago."

24. Of the translation of Paul into the third heaven many have
written, perplexing themselves over what constituted the first, second
and third heavens, and the paradise. Paul himself, who had the
experience, does not tell, and declares no man can tell, for none may
utter the words he heard. Therefore, we must humbly acknowledge we do
not know the nature of these things. And it matters not. Paul does not
boast of his experience for the purpose of imparting knowledge to us
or of enabling us to duplicate it. The purpose of his boasting is
simply to stop the mouths of the fanatics and to show how paltry was
their glory in comparison with his own. Certain it is, however, that
Paul was ravished from this life into a life ineffable; otherwise his
expression would be meaningless.


PAUL'S THORN IN THE FLESH AND HUMILITY.

"There was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan."

25. And must this mighty apostle, O merciful God, be subject to trials
lest he exalt himself because of his great revelations? Then how
should others, how should such infirm beings as we, be free from
self-exaltation? Many teachers have explained Paul's thorn to be the
temptations of the flesh. The Latin text is responsible for this
interpretation; it reads, "stimulus carnis," a spear, or thorn for the
flesh. Yet that rendering does not do justice to the words. Paul is
not in the habit of terming temptations of the flesh "thorns." The
thorn stands rather for something painful and afflicting. In "a thorn
of the flesh" the thought is not of an instrumentality whereby the
flesh stings, but of something that stings the flesh. The Greek text
impels us to the thought of a thorn for the flesh, or a thorn upon or
in the flesh. The idea is much like that in the German proverb, "The
clog is bound to the dog's neck." We may imagine Paul expressing
himself: "As a clog to a dog's neck, as a ring in a bear's nose, a bit
in a horse's mouth or a gag in the mouth of a swine, in order to
restrain them from running, biting and general mischief,--so is my
thorn a clog to my body lest I exalt myself."

26. But Paul himself explains the nature of the clog, or thorn. He
calls it "a messenger of Satan," a devil, to "buffet" him, or to flay
and jog him. Hence a spiritual trial cannot be meant. The explanation
appeals to me that the persecutions and sufferings the apostle
recounts above constitute the devil's flaying. Thus his meaning would
be: "I have received great revelations, for which reason the clog is
bound to the dog; that is, the many dangers and misfortunes with which
the angel of the devil buffets and humiliates my body will make me
forget to exalt myself. They are the thorn in my flesh, or upon my
body; for God will not permit it to come upon my soul."

27. Yet the text seems to imply some peculiar work of the devil upon
Paul's body, for it says the thorn, or clog, is the messenger Satan
employs to beat his body; and also that the apostle diligently but
unavailingly thrice besought the Lord to remove it. I do not imagine
him praying for the cessation of persecutions in a spirit of
unwillingness to suffer them. But since he does not specify the
affliction, we must let it remain a secret one, a distress known only
to himself. It is enough for us to know that while God had given him
great revelations, revelations beyond human ken, he also bound the
clog to him--gave him a thorn for his body--to prevent his exaltation
of himself; and that the knowledge of the buffetings and flaying
caused by this clog, or devil, are likewise beyond human ken.

"My power is made perfect in weakness."

28. It is a strange sort of strength which is weak and by its weakness
grows stronger. Who ever heard of weak strength? or more absurd still,
that strength is increased by weakness? Paul would here make a
distinction between human strength and divine. Human strength
increases with enhancement and decreases with enfeeblement. But God's
power--his Word in us--rises in proportion to the pressure it
receives. It is characteristic of God the Creator that he creates all
things from naught, and again reduces to naught all created things.
Human power cannot do this. The power of God is the true palm-wood
which buoys itself in proportion as it is burdened and weighted.

29. Note here, "weakness" is not to be understood in a spiritual
sense, as on a previous occasion, but externally; as not illness
alone, but every sort of evil, misfortune, suffering and persecution
calculated to buffet and humble the body. The power of Christ, in
connection with which spiritual weakness cannot exist, is invoked
against this weakness likewise. He says, "Most gladly will I glory in
my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." And his
weaknesses he immediately explains as infirmities, injuries,
necessities, persecutions and distresses. The thought, then, is:
Christ is not mighty within us, his word and his faith are not strong
in us, unless our bodies suffer affliction. The false apostles,
however, take excellent care to escape suffering.



_Sunday Before Lent_

Text: First Corinthians 13.

1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love,
I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have the
gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I
have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am
nothing. 3 And if I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and if I
give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profiteth me nothing.
4 Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth
not itself, is not puffed up, 5 doth not behave itself unseemly,
seeketh not its own, is not provoked, taketh not account of evil; 6
rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth with the truth; 7
beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth
all things. 8 Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies,
they shall be done away; whether there be tongues, they shall cease;
whether there be knowledge, it shall be done away. 9 For we know in
part, and we prophesy in part; 10 but when that which is perfect is
come, that which is in part shall be done away. 11 When I was a child,
I spake as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child: now that
I am become a man, I have put away childish things. 12 For now we see
in a mirror, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but
then shall I know fully even as also I was fully known. 13 But now
abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is
love.


PAUL'S PRAISE OF CHRISTIAN LOVE.

1. Paul's purpose in this chapter is to silence and humble haughty
Christians, particularly teachers and preachers. The Gospel gives much
knowledge of God and of Christ, and conveys many wonderful gifts, as
Paul recounts in Romans 12 and in First Corinthians 12. He tells us
some have the gift of speaking, some of teaching, some of Scripture
exposition; others of ruling; and so on. With Christians are great
riches of spiritual knowledge, great treasures in the way of spiritual
gifts. Manifest to all is the meaning of God, Christ, conscience, the
present and the future life, and similar things. But there are to be
found few indeed who make the right use of such gifts and knowledge;
who humble themselves to serve others, according to the dictates of
love. Each seeks his own honor and advantage, desiring to gain
preferment and precedence over others.

2. We see today how the Gospel has given to men knowledge beyond
anything known in the world before, and has bestowed upon them new
capabilities. Various gifts have been showered upon and distributed
among them which have redounded to their honor. But they go on
unheeding. No one takes thought how he may in Christian love serve his
fellow-men to their profit. Each seeks for himself glory and honor,
advantage and wealth. Could one bring about for himself the
distinction of being the sole individual learned and powerful in the
Gospel, all others to be insignificant and useless, he would willingly
do it; he would be glad could he alone be regarded as Mister Smart. At
the same time he affects deep humility, great self-abasement, and
preaches of love and faith. But he would take it hard had he, in
practice, to touch with his little finger what he preaches. This
explains why the world is so filled with fanatics and schismatics, and
why every man would master and outrank all others. Such as these are
haughtier than those that taught them. Paul here attacks these
vainglorious spirits, and judges them to be wholly insignificant,
though their knowledge may be great and their gifts even greater,
unless they should humble themselves and use their gifts in the
service of others.

3. To these coarse and mean people he addresses himself with a
multitude of words and a lengthy discourse, a subject he elsewhere
disposes of in a few words; for instance, where he says (Phil 2, 3-4),
"In lowliness of mind each counting other better than himself; not
looking each of you to his own things, but each of you also to the
things of others." By way of illustration, he would pass sentence upon
himself should he be thus blameworthy; this more forcibly to warn
others who fall far short of his standing. He says,

"If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels."

4. That is, though I had ability to teach and to preach with power
beyond that of any man or angel, with words of perfect charm, with
truth and excellence informing my message--though I could do this,
"but have not love [charity]," and only seek my own honor and profit
and not my neighbor's, "I am become sounding brass, or a clanging
cymbal." In other words, "I might, perhaps, thereby teach others
something, might fill their ears with sound, but before God I would be
nothing." As a clock or a bell has not power to hear its own sound,
and does not derive benefit from its stroke, so the preacher who lacks
love cannot himself understand anything he says, nor does he thereby
improve his standing before God. He has much knowledge, indeed, but
because he fails to place it in the service of love, it is the quality
of his knowledge that is at fault. 1 Cor 8, 1-12. Far better he were
dumb or devoid of eloquence, if he but teach in love and meekness,
than to speak as an angel while seeking but his own interests.

"And if I have the gift of prophecy."

5. According to chapter 14, to prophesy is to be able, by the Holy
Spirit's inspiration, correctly to understand and explain the prophets
and the Scriptures. This is a most excellent gift. To "know mysteries"
is to be able to apprehend the spiritual meaning of the Scriptures, or
its allegorical references, as Paul does where (Gal 4, 24-31) he makes
Sarah and Hagar representative of the two covenants, and Isaac and
Ishmael of the two peoples--the Jews and the Christians. Christ does
the same (Jn 3, 14) when he makes the brazen serpent of Moses typical
of himself on the cross; again, when Isaac, David, Solomon and other
characters of sacred history appear as figures of Christ. Paul calls
it "mystery"--this hidden, secret meaning beneath the primary sense of
the narrative. But "knowledge" is the understanding of practical
matters, such as Christian liberty, or the realization that the
conscience is not bound. Paul would say, then: "Though one may
understand the Scriptures, both in their obvious and their hidden
sense; though he may know all about Christian liberty and a proper
conversation; yet if he have not love, if he do not with that
knowledge serve his neighbor, it is all of no avail whatever; in God's
sight he is nothing."

6. Note how forcibly yet kindly Paul restrains the disgraceful vice of
vainglory. He disregards even those exalted gifts, those gifts of
exceeding refinement, charm and excellence, which naturally produce
pride and haughtiness though they command the admiration and esteem of
men. Who would not suppose the Holy Spirit to dwell visibly where such
wisdom, such discernment of the Scriptures, is present? Paul's two
epistles to the Corinthians are almost wholly directed against this
particular vice, for it creates much mischief where it has sway. In
Titus 1, 7, he names first among the virtues of a bishop that he be
"non superbus," not haughty. In other words that he do not exalt
himself because of his office, his honor and his understanding, and
despise others in comparison. But strangely Paul says,

"If I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I
am nothing."


LOVE THE SPIRIT'S FRUIT RECEIVED BY FAITH.

7. We hold, and unquestionably it is true, that it is faith which
justifies and cleanses. Rom 1, 17; 10, 10; Acts 15, 9. But if it
justifies and purifies, love must be present. The Spirit cannot but
impart love together with faith. In fact, where true faith is, the
Holy Spirit dwells; and where the Holy Spirit is, there must be love
and every excellence. How is it, then, Paul speaks as if faith without
love were possible? We reply, this one text cannot be understood as
subverting and militating against all those texts which ascribe
justification to faith alone. Even the sophists have not attributed
justification to love, nor is this possible, for love is an effect, or
fruit, of the Spirit, who is received through faith.

8. Three answers may be given to the question. First, Paul has not
reference here to the Christian faith, which is inevitably accompanied
by love, but to a general faith in God and his power. Such faith is a
gift; as, for instance, the gift of tongues, the gift of knowledge, of
prophecy, and the like. There is reason to believe Judas performed
miracles in spite of the absence of Christian faith, according to John
6, 70: "One of you is a devil." This general faith, powerless to
justify or to cleanse, permits the old man with his vices to remain,
just as do the gifts of intellect, health, eloquence, riches.

9. A second answer is: Though Paul alludes to the true Christian
faith, he has those in mind who have indeed attained to faith and
performed miracles with it, but fall from grace through pride, thus
losing their faith. Many begin but do not continue. They are like the
seed in stony ground. They soon fall from faith. The temptations of
vainglory are mightier than those of adversity. One who has the true
faith and is at the same time able to perform miracles is likely to
seek and to accept honor with such eagerness as to fall from both love
and faith.

10. A third answer is: Paul in his effort to present the necessity of
love, supposes an impossible condition. For instance, I might express
myself in this way: "Though you were a god, if you lacked patience you
would be nothing." That is, patience is so essential to divinity that
divinity itself could not exist without it, a proposition necessarily
true. So Paul's meaning is, not that faith could exist without love,
but on the contrary, so much is love an essential of faith that even
mountain-moving faith would be nothing without love, could we separate
the two even in theory.

The third answer pleases me by far the best, though I do not reject
the others, particularly the first. For Paul's very first premise is
impossible--"if I speak with the tongues of angels." To speak with an
angelic tongue is impossible for a human being, and he clearly
emphasizes this impossibility by making a distinction between the
tongues of men and those of angels. There is no angelic tongue; while
angels may speak to us in a human tongue men can never speak in those
of angels.

11. As we are to understand the first clause--"If I speak with the
tongues of angels"--as meaning, Were it as possible as it is
impossible for me to speak with the tongues of angels; so are we to
understand the second clause--"If I have all faith, so as to remove
mountains"--to mean, Were it as possible as it is impossible to have
such faith. Equally impossible is the proposition of understanding all
mysteries, and we must take it to mean, Were it possible for one to
understand all mysteries, which, however, it is not. John, in the last
chapter of his Gospel, asserts that the world could not contain all
the books which might be written concerning the things of the kingdom.
For no man can ever fathom the depths of these mysteries. Paul's
manner of expressing himself is but a very common one, such as: "Even
if I were a Christian, if I believed not in Christ I would be
nothing"; or, "Were you even a prince, if you neither ruled men nor
possessed property you would be nothing."

"And if I bestow all my goods to feed the poor."

12. In other words, "Were I to perform all the good works on earth and
yet had not charity--having sought therein only my own honor and
profit and not my neighbor's--I would nevertheless be lost." In the
performance of external works so great as the surrender of property
and life, Paul includes all works possible of performance, for he who
would at all do these, would do any work. Just so, when he has
reference to tongues he includes all good words and doctrines; and in
prophecy, understanding and faith he comprises all wisdom and
knowledge. Some may risk body and property for the sake of temporal
glory. So Romans and pagans have done; but as love was lacking and
they sought only their own interests, they practically gave nothing.
It being generally impossible for men to give away all their property,
and their bodies to be burned, the meaning must be: "Were it possible
for me to give all my goods to the poor, and my body to be burned."

13. The false reasoning of the sophists will not stand when they
maliciously deduct from this text the theory that the Christian faith
is not effectual to blot out sin and to justify. They say that before
faith can justify it must be garnished with love; but justification
and its distinctive qualities as well are beyond their ken.
Justification of necessity precedes love. One does not love until he
has become godly and righteous. Love does not make us godly, but when
one has become godly love is the result. Faith, the Spirit and
justification have love as effect and fruitage, and not as mere
ornament and supplement. We maintain that faith alone justifies and
saves. But that we may not deceive ourselves and put our trust in a
false faith, God requires love from us as the evidence of our faith,
so that we may be sure of our faith being real faith.


THE NATURE OF CHRISTIAN LOVE.

"Love suffereth long, and is kind."

14. Now Paul begins to mention the nature of love, enabling us to
perceive where real love and faith are to be found. A haughty teacher
does not possess the virtues the apostle enumerates. Lacking these,
however many gifts the haughty have received through the Gospel, they
are devoid of love.

First, love "suffereth long." That is, it is patient; not sudden and
swift to anger, not hasty to exercise revenge, impatience or blind
rage. Rather it bears in patience with the wicked and the infirm until
they yield. Haughty teachers can only judge, condemn and despise
others, while justifying and exalting themselves.

15. Second, love is "kind." In other words, it is pleasant to deal
with; is not of forbidding aspect; ignores no one; is kind to all men,
in words, acts and attitude.

16. Third, love "envieth not"--is not envious nor displeased at the
greater prosperity of others; grudges no one property or honor.
Haughty teachers, however, are envious and unkind. They begrudge
everyone else both honor and possessions. Though with their lips they
may pretend otherwise, these characteristics are plainly visible in
their deeds.

17. Fourth, love "vaunteth not itself." It is averse to knavery, to
crafty guile and double-dealing. Haughty and deceptive spirits cannot
refrain from such conduct, but love deals honestly and uprightly and
face to face.

18. Fifth, love is not "puffed up," as are false teachers, who swell
themselves up like adders.

19. Sixth, love "doth not behave itself unseemly" after the manner of
the passionate, impatient and obstinate, those who presume to be
always in the right, who are opposed to all men and yield to none, and
who insist on submission from every individual, otherwise they set the
world on fire, bluster and fume, shriek and complain, and thirst for
revenge. That is what such inflating pride and haughtiness of which we
have just spoken lead to.

20. Seventh, love "seeketh not her own." She seeks not financial
advancement; not honor, profit, ease; not the preservation of body and
life. Rather she risks all these in her ... [text missing from this
edition] ... is no such thing as the Church of Christ nor as true
Christians. Many erring spirits, especially strong pretenders to ...
[text missing from this edition]

21. Eighth, love "is not [easily] provoked" by wrong and ingratitude;
it is meek. False teachers can tolerate nothing; they seek only their
own advantage and honor, to the injury of others.

22. Ninth, love "taketh not account of [thinketh no] evil." It is not
suspicious; it puts the best construction on everything and takes all
in good faith. The haughty, however, are immeasurably suspicious;
always solicitous not to be underrated, they put the worst
construction on everything, as Joab construed Abner's deeds. 2 Sam 3,
25. This is a shameful vice, and they who are guilty of it are hard to
handle.

23. Tenth, love "rejoiceth not in unrighteousness [iniquity]." The
words admit of two interpretations: First, as having reference to the
delight of an individual in his own evil doings. Solomon (Prov 2, 14)
speaks of those who "rejoice to do evil." Such must be either
extremely profligate and shameless, characters like harlots and
knaves; or else they must be hypocrites, who do not appreciate the
wickedness of their conduct; characters like heretics and schismatics,
who rejoice when their knavery succeeds under the name of God and of
the truth. I do not accept this interpretation, but the other. Paul's
meaning is that false teachers are malicious enough to prefer to hear,
above all things, that some other does wrong, commits error and is
brought to shame; and their motive is simply that they themselves may
appear upright and godly. Such was the attitude of the pharisee toward
the publican, in the Gospel. But love's compassion reaches far beyond
its own sins, and prays for others.

24. Eleventh, love "rejoiceth with [in] the truth." Here is evidence
that the preceding phrase is to be taken as having reference to
malicious rejoicing at another's sin and fall. Rejoicing in the truth
is simply exulting in the right-doing and integrity of another.
Similarly, love is grieved at another's wrong-doing. But to the
haughty it is an affliction to learn of uprightness in someone else;
for they imagine such integrity detracts from their own profit and
honor.

25. Twelfth, love "beareth all things." It excuses every failing in
all men, however weak, unjust or foolish one may be apparently, and no
one can be guilty of a wrong too great for it to overlook. But none
can do right in the eyes of the haughty, who ever find something to
belittle and censure as beyond toleration, even though they must hunt
up an old fence to find the injury.

26. Thirteenth, love "believeth all things." Paul does not here allude
to faith in God, but to faith in men. His meaning is: Love is of
decidedly trustful disposition. The possessor of it believes and
trusts all men, considering them just and upright like himself. He
anticipates no wily and crooked dealing, but permits himself to be
deceived, deluded, flouted, imposed upon, at every man's pleasure, and
asks, "Do you really believe men so wicked?" He measures all other
hearts by his own, and makes mistakes with utmost cheerfulness. But
such error works him no injury. He knows God cannot forsake, and the
deceiver of love but deceives himself. The haughty, on the contrary,
trust no one, will believe none, nor brook deception.

27. Fourteenth, love "hopeth all things." Love despairs of no man,
however wicked he may be. It hopes for the best. As implied here, love
says, "We must, indeed, hope for better things." It is plain from this
that Paul is not alluding to hope in God. Love is a virtue
particularly representing devotion to a neighbor; his welfare is its
goal in thought and deed. Like its faith, the hope entertained by love
is frequently misplaced, but it never gives up. Love rejects no man;
it despairs of no cause. But the proud speedily despair of men
generally, rejecting them as of no account.

28. Fifteenth, love "endureth all things." It endures whatever harm
befalls, whatever injury it suffers; it endures when its faith and
hope in men have been misplaced; endures when it sustains damage to
body, property or honor. It knows that no harm has been done since it
has a rich God. False teachers, however, bear with nothing, least of
all with perfidy and the violation of plighted faith.

29. Sixteenth, love never faileth; that means, it abides forever, also
in the life to come. It never gives up, never permits itself to be
hindered or defeated by the wickedness or ingratitude of men, as do
worldly individuals and false saints, who, immediately on perceiving
contempt or ingratitude, draw back, unwilling to do further good to
any, and, rendering themselves quite inhuman, become perfect
misanthropes like Timon in his reputation among the Greeks. Love does
not so. It permits not itself to be made wicked by the wickedness of
men, nor to be hindered in well-doing. It continues to do good
everywhere, teaching and admonishing, aiding and serving,
notwithstanding its services and benefits must be rewarded, not by
good, but by evil. Love remains constant and immovable; it continues,
it endures, in this earthly life and also in the life to come. The
apostle adds, "Whether there be prophecies, they shall be done away;
whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be
knowledge, it shall be done away." Love he commends above all other
endowments, as a gift that can never pass, even in the life to come.
Those other gifts, the boast of the false apostles, are bestowed only
for this present life, to serve in the administering of the
ministerial office. Prophecy, tongues, knowledge, all must cease; for
in yonder life each individual will himself perceive perfectly and
there will be no need for one to teach another. Likewise, all
differences, all inequalities, shall be no more. No knowledge and no
diversity of gifts is necessary; God himself will be all in every
soul. 1 Cor 15, 28.

30. Here Paul gives utterance to the distinction between the life of
faith here below and that heavenly life of divine vision. He would
teach that we have in this life and the other the same possession, for
it is the same God and the same treasures which we have here by faith
and there by sight. In the objects themselves there is no difference;
the difference consists in our knowledge. We have the same God in both
lives, but in different manner of possession. The mode of possessing
God in this life is faith. Faith is an imperfect, obscure vision,
which makes necessary the Word, which, in turn, receives vogue through
the ministry, tongues and prophecy. Without the Word, faith cannot
live. But the mode of possessing God in the future life is not faith
but sight. This is perfect knowledge, rendering unnecessary the Word,
and likewise preaching, tongues and prophecy. These, then, must pass.
Paul continues,

"We know in part, and we prophesy in part."

31. "We know in part"; that is, in this life we know imperfectly, for
it is of faith and not of sight. And we "prophesy in part"; that is,
imperfectly, for the substance of our prophecy is the Word and
preaching. Both knowledge and prophecy, however, reveal nothing short
of what the angels see--the one God. "But when that which is perfect
is come, that which is in part shall be done away."

He proves this by way of illustration and contrasts the child with the
man. To children, who are yet weak, play is a necessity; it is a
substitute for office and work. Similarly, we in the present life are
far too frail to behold God. Until we are able, it is necessary that
we should use the medium of Word and faith, which are adapted to our
limitations.

"For now we see in a mirror [through a glass] darkly; but then face to
face."

32. Faith, Paul tells us, is like a mirror, like a riddle. The actual
face is not in the glass; there is but the image of it. Likewise,
faith gives us, not the radiant countenance of eternal Deity, but a
mere image of him, an image derived through the Word. As a dark riddle
points to something more than it expresses, so faith suggests
something clearer than that which it perceives. But in the life to
come, mirror and riddle, faith and its demonstration, shall all have
ceased to be. God's face and our own shall be mutually and clearly
revealed. Paul says, "Now I know in part; but then shall I know fully
even as also I was fully known [know even also as I am known]." That
is, God now knows me perfectly, clearly and plainly; no dark veil is
upon myself. But as to him, a dark veil hides him from me. With the
same perfect clearness wherewith he now knows me, I shall then know
him--without a veil. The veil shall be taken away, not from him, but
from me; for upon him is no veil.


THE GREATEST CHRISTIAN VIRTUE IS LOVE.

"But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of
these is love."

33. The sophists have transgressed in a masterly manner as regards
this verse. They have made faith vastly inferior to love because of
Paul's assertion that love is greater than faith and greater than
hope. As usual, their mad reason blindly seizes upon the literal
expression. They hack a piece out of it and the remainder they ignore.
Thus they fail to understand Paul's meaning; they do not perceive that
the sense of Paul concerning the greatness of love is expressed both
in the text and the context. For surely it cannot be disputed that the
apostle is here referring to the permanent or temporary character
respectively of love and other gifts, and not to their rank or power.
As to rank, not faith only, but the Word, surpasses love; for the Word
is the power of God unto salvation to all that believe. Rom 1, 16. Yet
the Word must pass. But though love is the fruit of the Word and its
effect, it shall never be abolished. Faith possesses God himself. It
possesses and can accomplish all things; yet it must cease. Love gives
and blesses the neighbor, as a result of faith, and it shall never be
done away.

34. Now, Paul's statement that love is greater than faith and hope is
intended as an expression of the permanence, or eternal duration, of
love. Faith, being limited as to time in comparison with love, ranks
beneath it for the reason of this temporary duration. With the same
right I might say that the kingdom of Christ is greater upon earth
than was Christ. Thereby I do not mean that the Church in itself is
better and of higher rank than Christ, but merely that it covers a
greater part of the earth than he compassed; for he was here but three
years and those he spent in a limited sphere, whereas his kingdom has
been from the beginning and is coextensive with the earth. In this
sense, love is longer and broader than either faith or hope. Faith
deals with God merely in the heart and in this life, whereas the
relations of love both to God and the whole world are eternal.
Nevertheless, as Christ is immeasurably better and higher and more
precious than the Christian Church, although we behold him moving in
smaller limits and as a mere individual, so is faith better, higher
and more precious than love, though its duration is limited and it has
God alone for its object.

35. Paul's purpose in thus extolling love is to deal a blow to false
teachers and to bring to naught their boasts about faith and other
gifts when love is lacking. His thought is: "If ye possess not love,
which abides forever, all else whereof ye boast being perishable, ye
will perish with it. While the Word of God, and spiritual gifts, are
eternal, yet the external office and proclamation of the Word, and
likewise the employment of gifts in their variety, shall have an end,
and thus your glory and pride shall become as ashes." So, then, faith
justifies through the Word and produces love. But while both Word and
faith shall pass, righteousness and love, which they effect, abide
forever; just as a building erected by the aid of scaffolding remains
after the scaffolding has been removed.

36. Observe how small the word "love" and how easily uttered! Who
would have thought to find so much precious virtue and power ascribed
by Paul to this one excellence as counterpart of so much that is evil?
This is, I imagine, magnifying love, painting love. It is a better
discourse on virtue and vice than are the heathen writings. The model
the apostle presents should justly shame the false teachers, who talk
much of love but in whom not one of the virtues he mentions is found.

Every quality of love named by him means false teachers buffeted and
assaulted. Whenever he magnifies love and characterizes her powers, he
invariably makes at the same time a thrust at those who are deficient
in any of them. Well may we, then, as he describes the several
features, add the comment "But you do very differently."

37. It is passing strange that teachers devoid of love should possess
such gifts as Paul has mentioned here, viz., speaking with tongues,
prophesying, understanding mysteries; that they should have faith,
should bestow their goods and suffer themselves to be burned. For we
have seen what abominations ensue where love is lacking; such
individuals are proud, envious, puffed up, impatient, unstable, false,
venomous, suspicious, malicious, disdainful, bitter, disinclined to
service, distrustful, selfish, ambitious and haughty. How can it
consistently be claimed that people of this stamp can, through faith,
remove mountains, give their bodies to be burned, prophesy, and so on?
It is precisely as I have stated. Paul presents an impossible
proposition, implying that since they are devoid of love, they do not
really possess those gifts, but merely assume the name and appearance.
And in order to divest them of those he admits for the sake of
argument that they are what in reality they are not.



_First Sunday In Lent_

Text: Second Corinthians 6, 1-10.

1 And working together with him we entreat also that ye receive not
the grace of God in vain 2 (for he saith, At an acceptable time I
hearkened unto thee, and in a day of salvation did I succor thee:
behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of
salvation): 3 giving no occasion of stumbling in anything, that our
ministration be not blamed; 4 but in everything commending ourselves,
as ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities,
in distresses, 5 in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors,
in watchings, in fastings; 6 in pureness, in knowledge, in
longsuffering, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in love unfeigned, 7
in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the armor of
righteousness on the right hand on the left, 8 by glory and dishonor,
by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; 9 as
unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as
chastened, and not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as
poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all
things.


AN ENTREATY TO LIVE AS CHRISTIANS.

1. This lesson is an admonition to the Corinthians calculated to
stimulate them in the performance of the duties they already
recognize. The words are easily enough said, but execution is
difficult and practice rare. For Paul gives a strange description of
the Christian life, and the color and characteristics with which he
exhibits it render it decidedly unprepossessing. First he says:

"And working together with him we entreat also that ye receive not the
grace of God in vain."

2. He calls the Corinthians co-workers, as in First Corinthians 3, 9,
where he puts it: "We are God's fellow-workers; ye are God's
husbandry, God's building." That is, we labor upon you with the
external Word--teaching and admonishing; but God, working inwardly
through the Spirit, gives the blessing and the success. He permits not
our labor with the outward Word to be in vain. Therefore, God is the
true Master, performing inwardly the supreme work, while we aid
outwardly, serving him through the ministry.

The apostle's purpose in praising his co-laborers is to prevent them
from despising the external Word as something inessential to them, or
well enough known. For though God is able to effect everything without
the instrumentality of the outward Word, working inwardly by his
Spirit, this is by no means his purpose. He uses preachers as
fellow-workers, or co-laborers, to accomplish his purpose through the
Word when and where he pleases. Now, since preachers have the office,
name and honor of fellow-workers with God, no one may be considered
learned enough or holy enough to ignore or despise the most inferior
preaching; especially since he knows not when the hour may come
wherein God will, through preachers, perform his work in him.

3. Secondly, Paul shows the danger of neglecting the grace of God. He
boldly declares here that the preaching of the Gospel is not an
eternal, continuous and permanent mode of instruction, but rather a
passing shower, which hastens on. What it strikes, it strikes; what it
misses, it misses. It does not return, nor does it stand still. The
sun and heat follow and dry it up. Experience shows that in no part of
the world has the Gospel remained pure beyond the length of man's
memory. Only so long as its pioneers lived did it stand and prosper.
When they were gone, the light disappeared; factious spirits and false
teachers followed immediately.

Thus Moses announces (Deut 31, 29) that the children of Israel will
corrupt themselves after his death; and the book of Judges testifies
that so it really came to pass. Each time a judge died in whose days
the Word of God obtained sway, the people fell away and became more
wicked than before. King Joash did what was right so long as the high
priest Jehoiada lived, but after the latter's death this had an end.
And following the time of Christ and his apostles, the world was
filled with seditious spirits and false teachers. Paul, in fact,
declares (Acts 20, 29): "I know that after my departing grievous
wolves shall enter in among you, not sparing the flock." So also we
now have the pure Gospel. This is a time of grace and salvation and
the acceptable day; but should the world continue, this condition,
too, will soon pass.

4. To receive the grace of God in vain can be nothing else than to
hear the pure word of God which presents and offers his grace, and yet
to remain listless and irresponsive, undergoing no change at all.
Thus, ungrateful for the Word and unworthy of it, we merit the loss of
the Word. Such as these are described in the parable (Lk 14, 16-24)
where the guests bidden to the supper refused to come and went about
their own business, thus provoking the master's anger until he swore
they should not taste his supper.

Similar is Paul's threat here, that we may take heed and accept the
Gospel with fear and gratitude. Christ says (Jn 12, 35), "Walk while
ye have the light, that darkness overtake you not." I should think we
might have learned wisdom from experience--from the darkness we
suffered under the Papacy. But that is all forgotten; we show neither
gratitude nor amendment of life. Very well, we shall find out the
consequences.


SALVATION WHEREVER THE GOSPEL IS SENT.

"Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of
salvation."

5. These words portray the richness of the salvation wherever the
Gospel goes: nothing but grace and help; no wrath or punishment.
Indeed, these are words of unutterable meaning the apostle here
employs.

First, he tells us that it is an "acceptable time," as the Hebrew
expresses it. Our own way of putting it would be: "This is a gracious
time, a time when God turns away his wrath and is moved only by love
and benevolence toward us and is pleased to do us good." All our sins
are forgotten; he takes no note of the sins of the past nor of those
of the present. In short, we are in a realm of mercy, where are only
forgiveness and reconciliation. The heavens are now open. This is the
true golden year when man is denied nothing. So Paul says, "At an
acceptable time I hearkened unto thee"; that is: "I am kindly disposed
toward thee. Whatsoever thou shalt even desire and ask for, thou shalt
surely receive. Be not neglectful, therefore, and ask while the
acceptable time continues."

6. Second, Paul declares that it is a day of blessing, "a day of
salvation." It is a day of help, wherein we are not only acceptable
and assured of God's favor and good will toward us, but we experience
even as we have been assured--that God really does help us. He
verifies his assurance, for his beneficence gives testimony that our
prayers are heard. We call it a happy day, a blessed day, a day of
abundance; for these two truths are inseparably related--that God is
favorable toward us, and that his kindness is the proof of his favor.
God's favor toward us is revealed in the first clause, which speaks of
an acceptable time; that he extends help to us is revealed in the
second clause, telling of a blessed day of succor. Both these facts
are to be apprehended by faith and in good conscience; for a
superficial judgment would lead to the view that this period of
blessing is rather an accursed period of wrath and disfavor. Words
like these, of spiritual meaning, must be understood in the light of
the Holy Spirit; thus shall we find that these two glorious, beautiful
expressions refer to the Gospel dispensation and are intended to
magnify all the treasures and the riches of the kingdom of Christ.

"Giving no occasion of stumbling [no offense] in anything."

7. Since this is a time of blessing, let us make right use of it, not
spending it to no purpose, and let us take serious heed to give
offense to none; thus avoiding reproach to our ministry. It is evident
from the connection to what kind of offense the apostle has reference;
he would not have the Gospel doctrine charged with teaching anything
evil.

8. Two kinds of offense bring the Gospel into disgrace: In one case it
is the heathen who are offended, and this because of the fact that
some individuals would make the Gospel a means of freedom from
temporal restraint, substituting temporal liberty for spiritual. They
thus bring reproach upon the Gospel as teaching such doctrine, and
make it an object of scandal to the heathen and worldly people,
whereby they are misled and become enemies to the faith and to the
Word of God without cause, being the harder to convert since they
regard Christians as licentious knaves. And the responsibility for
this must be placed at the door of those who have given offense in
this respect.

In the other case, Christians are offended among themselves. The
occasion is the indiscreet exercise of Christian liberty, which
offends the weak in faith. Concerning this topic much is said in First
Corinthians 8 and Romans 14. Paul here hints at what he speaks of in
First Corinthians 10, 32-33: "Give no occasion of stumbling, either to
Jews, or to Greeks, or to the church of God: even as I also please all
men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of the
many that they may be saved." He takes up the same subject in
Philippians 2, 4, teaching that every man should look on the things of
others. Then no offense will be given.

"That our ministration [the ministry] be not blamed."

9. Who can prevent our office being vilified? for the Word of God must
be persecuted equally with Christ himself. That the Word of God is
reviled by unbelievers ignorant of faith in God is something we cannot
prevent. For, according to Isaiah 8, 14 and Romans 9, 33, the Gospel
is a "rock of offense." This is the offense of the faith; it will
pursue its course and we are not responsible.

But for love's offense, offense caused by shortcomings in our works
and fruits of faith, the things we are commanded to let shine before
men, that, seeing these, they may be allured to the faith--for offense
in this respect we cannot disclaim responsibility. It is a sin we
certainly must avoid, that the heathen, the Jews, the weak and the
rulers of the world may never be able to say: "Behold the knavery and
licentiousness of these people! Surely their doctrine cannot be true."
Otherwise our evil name and fame and the obstacles we place before
others will extend to the innocent and holy Word God has given us to
apprehend and to proclaim; it must bear our shame and in addition
become unfruitful in the offended ones. Grievous is such a sin as
this.


MARKS OF CHRISTIANS AS MINISTERS OF GOD.

"But in everything commending ourselves, as ministers of God, in much
patience."

10. The apostle here portrays the Christian life in its outward
expression. Not that it is possible for anyone thereby to become a
Christian, or godly; but, being servants of God, or Christians and
godly people, we furnish in this manner, according to Paul's statement
here, the evidence thereof as by fruits and signs.

Mark his phrase "ministers of God." What a remarkable service for God
is this wherein we must endure so much suffering, so much affliction,
privation, anxiety, stripes, imprisonment, tumult or sedition, labor,
watching, fasting, and so on! No mass here, no vigil, no
hallucinations of a fictitious service of God; it is the true service
of God, which subdues the body and mortifies the flesh. Not, indeed,
as if fasting, watching and toiling are to be despised because they do
not make just. Though we are not thereby justified, we must
nevertheless practice those things, instead of giving rein to the
flesh and indulging our idleness.

11. Paul also mentions sedition. Not that by our teaching or life we
should be guilty of sedition against others; rather, we should be
quiet and obedient. See Romans 13. Christ says (Mt 22, 21), "Render
therefore unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's." Paul's meaning is
that when we become victims of sedition on the part of others we
should submit; just as we are not to inflict upon others privations,
distresses, stripes or imprisonment, but rather to accept them at
their hands. So Paul heads the list with patience; which does not
produce sedition, but endures it.

It is a consolation in these times when we are charged with raising
seditions, to reflect that it is the very nature and color of the
Christian life that it be criticised as seditious when the fact is it
patiently bears sedition directed against itself. Thus was it with
Elijah, who was accused by King Ahab of troubling Israel and exciting
turbulence. 1 Kings 18, 17-18. Then, when we are charged with guilt in
this respect, let us remember that not only did the apostles have to
hear the same accusation, but even Christ himself, with all his
innocence, was so accused. More than that, he was falsely reviled upon
the cross with a superscription charging sedition; in fact, he was
even put to death as a Jewish king guilty of opposition to Cæsar and
of enticing and inciting the people.

12. The remaining marks of the Christian life--patience, affliction,
necessities, distresses, stripes, imprisonments, labor, watching,
fasting, purity, etc., are easily interpreted; it is readily seen how
they are instrumental in our service to God. God will not have
indolent, idle gluttons, nor sleepy and impatient servants. Most
adroitly does Paul score in particular our fine idle youths who draw
interest from their money, have an easy life, and imagine their
tonsures, their long robes and their howling in the churches excuse
them from labor. All men should labor and earn their bread, according
to Paul. 2 Thes 3, 12. By labor, our text teaches, we serve God; more
than that, our labor is testimony to the fact that we serve God.

"In knowledge."

13. What is meant here? With Paul, knowledge signifies discretion,
understanding, reason. He speaks of the Jews (Rom 10, 2) as having "a
zeal for God, but not according to knowledge"; that is, a zeal without
reason, without understanding, without discretion. His message here,
then, is: "We should conduct ourselves in Christian affairs with
becoming reason and moderation lest we give offense to the weak by a
presumptuous use of Christian liberty. Rather we should, with
discretion and understanding, adapt ourselves to that which promotes
the neighbor's welfare. Likewise, when we labor, fast, or when we
regulate our sexual relations, we are to exercise reason, lest the
body should be injured by too much fasting, watching and toil, and
also by needless abstention from sexual intercourse. Let everyone take
heed to remain within bounds by using reason and discretion. The
apostle counsels the married (1 Cor 7, 5) not to defraud each other
too long, lest they be tempted. In all such matters, he would impose
no measures and rules, no limits and laws, after the manner of the
councils, the popes and the monks. He leaves it wholly to each
individual's discretion to decide and to test for himself all
questions of time and quantity bearing upon the restraints of his
flesh.

"In longsuffering, in kindness."

14. The meaning of these phrases has been stated in many other places,
particularly in connection with Romans 2 and Galatians 5.

"By the Holy Spirit."

15. What are we to understand here? The words may have one of two
meanings: First, the apostle may have reference to the Holy Spirit in
person, who is God. Second, he may have reference to the spirit of
individuals, or their spiritual condition. "Holy Spirit" may be
intended to stand for "spirituality," Paul's meaning being: "Beware of
the professedly spiritual, or of things glittering and purporting to
be spiritual; beware of them who make great boast of the Spirit and
nevertheless betray only a false, unclean, unholy spirit, productive
of sects and discord. Abide ye in that true, holy spirituality
proceeding from God's Holy Spirit, who imparts unity and harmony,
determination and courage." As Paul expresses it elsewhere (Eph 4, 3),
"Giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of
peace." They, then, who continue in one faith, one mind and
disposition, give testimony by the reality and saintliness of their
spiritual life and by the presence of the Holy Spirit that they are
servants of God. For true spirituality, or a holy walk in the Spirit,
means to be in heart and mind at one with the Spirit, through faith.

"In love unfeigned, in the word of truth."

16. As the apostle opposes the Holy Spirit to false sects and false
prophets, so he opposes unfeigned love to indolent Christians who in
true faith and unity of mind possess marks of true spirituality, but
are nevertheless indolent, cold, in fact false as regards love.

Again, he opposes the "Word of Truth" to abusers of the Word of God,
who misconstrue it and comment upon it according to their own fancy,
and for their own honor and profit. While much that purports to be
spiritual has not the Word as source and gives honor to the Spirit at
the expense of the Word, the class under consideration profess to
magnify the Word; they would be master interpreters of the Scriptures,
confident that their explanations are correct and superior. In
condemnation of this class, Peter says (1 Pet 4, 11), "If any man
speaketh, speaking as it were oracles of God," and not his own word.
In other words, let him be assured he speaks the Word of God and not
his own. God's Word Paul here terms the "Word of truth"; that is, the
true Word of God and not our own misconstrued, falsified word palmed
off as God's Word. In our idiom we would say "the real Word" where the
Hebrew has "Word of truth," or "true Word."

"In the power of God."

17. Peter speaks also of this power, in the verse before mentioned:
"If any man ministereth, ministering as of the strength which God
supplieth." And Paul elsewhere declares (Col 1, 29): "Whereunto I
labor also, striving according to his working, which worketh in me
mightily"; and again (Rom 15, 18): "For I will not dare to speak of
any things save those which Christ wrought through me, for the
obedience of the Gentiles." Christians should have the assurance that
they are the kingdom of God, and that in whatever they do, especially
in undertakings of a spiritual character, which have the salvation of
souls as aim, they beware of everything not absolutely known as true,
so that the work be not theirs but God's.

In God's kingdom God alone is to speak, reign and act. Christ says (Mt
5, 16): "Even so let your light shine before men, that they may see
your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven"--may glorify
him as the worker, and not yourselves. Seductive spirits, however,
come cavorting in their own power, throw the pictures out of the
churches and establish rules of their own, without caring whether it
is done in the power of God. The consequence is that their work is
neither permanent nor fruitful.


THE ARMOR OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.

"By the armor of righteousness."

18. This armor Paul more fully describes in Ephesians and in
Thessalonians. Sufficient explanation of it has been given in the
lesson for Advent. There is the "shield of faith," the "helmet of
salvation," the shoes of "the preparation of the Gospel of peace," and
so on. Paul includes them all under the term "armor of righteousness,"
and, in his epistle to the Ephesians, under the phrase "armor of God,"
to teach Christians to eschew and to forsake carnal, worldly weapons
for these. He would have them know themselves a spiritual people,
spiritually warring against the spiritual enemies enumerated here and
pointed out on the right hand and on the left.

19. On the left hand he places dishonor and evil report, in that we
appear to men as deceivers, unknown, in conflict with death,
chastened, sorrowful, poor and needy. Scorn is hurled in our faces and
the reputation accorded us is that of deceivers. The Christian must
not only be unknown, friendless and a stranger, but men will also be
ashamed of him--even his best friends--in consequence of the reproach
and evil report under which he lies in the eyes of the great, the
wealthy, the wise and the powerful of the world.

He must be as one dying--continually expecting death by reason of the
hatred and envy directed against him, and the various persecutions he
suffers. He must be beaten and scourged; must at times feel the weight
of the enmity and envy wherewith the world inflicts torment. He is
like the sorrowful, for so ill does he fare in the world, he has
reason to sorrow. He resembles the poor in that nothing is given him
but injuries; he possesses nothing, for if he has not been deprived of
all his possessions he daily expects that extremity.

Lest he despair of his hope in God and grow faint, he must be armed on
the left hand against these enemies with a divine armor: with a firm
faith, with the comfort of the divine Word, with hope, so that he may
endure and exercise patience. Thereby he proves himself to be a true
servant of God, inasmuch as false teachers and hypocrites, with all
their pompous worship, are incapable of these things.

20. On the right he places honor and good report, inasmuch as we are
after all true, well known, alive, defiant of death, full of joy,
rich, possessing all things. The Christian will have always a few to
honor and commend him; some there will be to give him a good report,
to praise him as true and honest in doctrine. And there will be some
who receive and acknowledge him, who are not ashamed of him. Life
remains in spite of death oft faced, even in scourgings. He rejoices
when things with him are at the worst, for his heart remains joyful in
God, that joy finding expression in words, deeds and manner. Though
poor in the goods of the world, he does not die of hunger, and he
makes many spiritually rich through the Word. Even though he have no
possessions at all, he suffers no lack but has in hand all things; for
all creatures must serve the believer. As Christ promised (Mk 9, 23),
"All things are possible to him that believeth." For himself, it is
true, he possesses nothing, and gladly he endures his need; but for
his neighbor's sake he can do all things, and all he has he is ready
to place at the disposal of his neighbor whenever need requires. These
blessings also give occasion for a powerful armor, for we must guard
against pride and haughtiness.

21. Thus the Christian is quite untrammeled. His eyes are fixed upon
God alone. Always choosing the safe middle path he steers clear of
danger on the right and on the left. He permits not the evil to
overthrow him nor the good to exalt, but makes use of both to the
honor of God and the benefit of his neighbor. This, Paul instructs us,
should be the manner of our life now while the season of grace
continues; nor must we fail to heed this! This is the true service of
God, the service well pleasing to him; unto which may God help us.
Amen.



_Second Sunday In Lent_

Text: First Thessalonians 4, 1-7.

1 Finally then, brethren, we beseech and exhort you in the Lord Jesus,
that, as ye received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God,
even as ye do walk,--that ye abound more and more. 2 For ye know what
charge we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of
God, even your sanctification, that ye abstain from fornication; 4
that each one of you know how to possess himself of his own vessel in
sanctification and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust, even as the
Gentiles who know not God; 6 that no man transgress, and wrong his
brother in the matter: because the Lord is an avenger in all these
things, as also we forewarned you and testified. 7 For God called us
not for uncleanness, but in sanctification.


EXHORTATION TO HOLINESS.

1. This lesson is easy of interpretation. It is a general and earnest
admonition on the part of Paul, enjoining us to an increasing degree
of perfection in the doctrine we have received. This admonition, this
exhortation, is one incumbent upon an evangelical teacher to give, for
he is urging us to observe a doctrine commanded of God. He says, "For
ye know what charge [commandments] we gave you through the Lord
Jesus." Whatever Christians do, it should be willing service, not
compulsory; but when a command is given, it should be in the form of
exhortation or entreaty. Those who have received the Spirit are they
from whom obedience is due; but those not inclined to a willing
performance, we should leave to themselves.

2. But mark you this: Paul places much value upon the gift bestowed
upon us, the gift of knowing how we are "to walk and to please God."
In the world this gift is as great as it is rare. Though the offer is
made to the whole world and publicly proclaimed, further exhortation
is indispensable, and Paul is painstaking and diligent in
administering it. The trouble is, we are in danger of becoming
indolent and negligent, forgetful and ungrateful--vices menacing and
great, and which, alas, are altogether too frequent.

Let us look back and note to what depths of darkness, of delusion and
abomination, we had sunk when we knew not how we ought to walk, how to
please God. Alas, we have forgotten all about it; we have become
indolent and ungrateful, and are dealt with accordingly. Well does the
apostle say in the lesson for the Sunday preceding this (2 Cor 6, 1):
"And working together with him we entreat also that ye receive not the
grace of God in vain, for he saith, At an acceptable time I hearkened
unto thee, and in a day of salvation did I succor thee."

3. In our present lesson he treats chiefly of two vices: unchastity,
which is a sin against oneself and destructive of the fruits of faith;
and fraud in business, which is a sin against the neighbor and
likewise destructive of faith and charity. Paul would have every man
keep himself chaste and free from wrong against every man, pronouncing
the wrath of God on offenses of this character.

4. It was a fact reflecting much credit and honor on the Thessalonians
in contrast to the Corinthians and the Galatians, that they continued
upright in doctrine and true in the knowledge of the faith, though
perhaps deficient in the above-mentioned two self-evident features of
Christian life. While it is true that if sins of immorality are not
renounced God will punish, yet punishment in such cases is for the
most part temporal, these sins being less pernicious than such gross
offenses as error in faith and doctrine.

5. Paul, however, threatens such sins with the wrath of God, lest
anyone become remiss and indolent, imagining the kingdom of Christ a
kingdom to tolerate with impunity such offenses. As Paul expresses it,
"God called us not for uncleanness, but in sanctification [holiness]."
The thought is: Unchastity does not come within the limits of
Christian liberty and privilege, nor does God treat the offender with
indulgence and impunity. No, indeed. In fact, he will more rigorously
punish this sin among Christians than among heathen. Paul tells us (1
Cor 11, 30) that many were sickly and many had succumbed to the sleep
of death in consequence of eating and drinking unworthily. And Psalm
89, 32 testifies, "Then will I visit their transgression with the
rod."

6. True, they who sin through infirmity, who, conscious of their
transgressions, suffer themselves to be reproved, repenting at
once--for these the kingdom of Christ has ready pity and forbearance,
commending them to acceptance and toleration (Rom 15; Gal 6, 1; 1 Cor
13, 7); but that such vices be regarded generally lawful and
normal--this will not do! Paul declares, "This is the will of God,
even your sanctification." And he speaks of "how ye ought to ...
please God." His thought is: Some consider these sins a matter of
little moment, treat them as if the wind blew them away and God rather
had pleasure in them as trivial affairs. But this is not true. While
God really bears with the fallen sinner, he would have us perceive our
errors and strive to mend our lives and to abound more and more in
righteousness. His grace is not intended to cloak our shame, nor
should the licentious abuse the kingdom of Christ as a shield for
their knavery. Paul commands (Gal 5, 13), "Use not your freedom for an
occasion to the flesh"; and Peter (1 Pet 2, 16), "As free, and not
using your freedom for a cloak of wickedness, but as bondservants of
God."

7. Paul, following the Hebrew way of speaking, has reference to
chastity where he says "your sanctification." He terms the body "holy"
when it is chaste, chastity being, in God's sight, equivalent to
holiness. "Holiness," in the Old Testament, is a synonym for "purity."
Again, "holiness" and "purity" are regarded as the same thing in First
Corinthians 7, 14: "Else were your children unclean; but now are they
holy."

8. The nature of the holiness and purity whereof he speaks he makes
plain himself in the words: "That ye abstain from fornication; that
each one of you know how to possess himself of his own vessel in
sanctification and honor." The apostle does not here prohibit
matrimony, but licentiousness, and unchastity outside the marriage
state. He who is careful to keep his vessel--his body--chaste, who
does not commit adultery and is not guilty of whoredom--this man
preserves his body in holiness and purity, and properly is called
chaste and holy. The same thought is borne out in the succeeding
verse:

"Not in the passion of lust [in the lust of concupiscence], even as
the Gentiles."

9. The Gentiles, who know not God, give themselves up to all manner of
uncleanness, or disgraceful vices, as Paul records in Romans 1, 29-31.
Not that all gentiles are guilty in that respect. Paul is not saying
what all heathen do; he merely states that with the gentiles such
conduct is apparent, and quite to be expected from people "who know
not God." Under such conditions, one allows the sin to pass
unreproved, as does Paul himself. Notwithstanding he censures them who
consent to sin of this character when knowing better, and who do not
restrain the evil-doers. Rom 1, 32. But in the case of Christians,
when any fall into such sin they are to be reproved and the sin
resisted; the offense must not be allowed to pass as with the
gentiles. In the case of the latter the lust of concupiscence holds
sway; no restraints are exercised and the reins are given to lust, so
that its nature and passion are given free expression, just as if this
were a provision of nature, when the fact is it is a pest to be
healed, a blemish to be removed. But there is none to heal and
deliver, so the gentiles decay and go to ruin through evil lust. "Lust
of concupiscence" would be, with us, "evil lust." The conclusion is
simple:

"That no man transgress and wrong his brother in the matter."

10. In other words, that no one take for himself what belongs to
another, or use the property of another for his own benefit, which may
be done by a variety of tricks. To "defraud in any matter" is to seek
gain at the expense of a neighbor. On this latter subject much has
been written elsewhere, particularly in the little treatise on
Merchants and Usury, showing the great extent to which extortion is
practiced and how charity is rarely observed. It is on this topic that
Paul here would fix our attention.



_Third Sunday In Lent_

Text: Ephesians 5, 1-9.

1 Be ye therefore imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in
love, even as Christ also loved you, and gave himself up for us, an
offering and a sacrifice to God for an odor of a sweet smell. 3 But
fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not even be
named among you, as becometh saints; 4 nor filthiness, nor foolish
talking, or jesting, which are not befitting: but rather giving of
thanks. 5 For this ye know of a surety, that no fornicator, nor
unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any
inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no man deceive you
with empty words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God
upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Be not ye therefore partakers with
them; 8 for ye were once darkness, but are now light in the Lord: walk
as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light is in all goodness
and righteousness and truth).


EXHORTATION TO BE IMITATORS OF GOD.

1. This is a letter of admonition, instructing Christians, according
to the plan underlying Paul's epistles, not to become sluggish and
careless, but by their deeds to evince their faith, and honor and
proclaim the Word he has taught them; for the sake of the gentiles and
unbelievers, that these may not take offense at the doctrine of
Christ.

2. To begin with, having shown that we were made children of God
through Christ, he admonishes us to be followers, or imitators, of the
Father, as beloved children. He employs the most endearing of
terms--"beloved children"--to persuade us by the Father's love to love
even as we are loved. But what manner of love has God manifested
toward us? It was not simply that love manifest in the fact that he
gives temporal support to us unworthy beings in common with all the
wicked on earth; that he permits his sun to rise on the just and on
the unjust and sends rain on the grateful and on the ungrateful, as
Christ mentions (Mt 5, 45) in connection with his command to be
perfect even as our Father in heaven is perfect. Not only thus did God
love us, but in a special way: he has given his Son for us. In
addition to showering upon us both temporal and eternal blessings he
has given his own self; he has completely poured out himself for us,
with all he is, with all he has, with all he does,--and we were
nothing but sinners, unworthy creatures, enemies and servants of the
devil. More than this would be beyond even his grace and power.

He who despises such glow of love, which fills all heaven and earth
and is beyond all power to comprehend it; who does not permit this
love to kindle and incite in him love for his neighbor whether enemy
or friend--such a one is not likely ever to become godly or loving by
such measures as laws or commandments, instruction, constraint or
compulsion.

3. "Walk in love," counsels the apostle. He would have our external
life all love. But not the world's love is to be our pattern, which
seeks only its own advantage, and loves only so long as it is the
gainer thereby; we must love even as Christ loved, who sought neither
pleasure nor gain from us but gave himself for us, not to mention the
other blessings he bestows daily--gave himself as a sacrifice and
offering to reconcile God unto ourselves, so that he should be our God
and we his children.

Thus likewise should we give, thus should we lend, or even surrender
our goods, no matter whether friends claim them or enemies. Nor are we
to stop there; we must be ready to give our lives for both friends and
enemies, and must be occupied with no other thought than how we can
serve others, and how both our life and property can be made to
minister to them in this life, and this because we know that Christ is
ours and has given us all things.

"To God for an odor of a sweet smell [for a sweet-smelling savor]."

4. This expression Paul takes from the Old Testament. There the
temporal sacrifices are described as being "a sweet-smelling savor"
unto God: that is, they were acceptable and well-pleasing to him; but
not, as the Jews imagined, because of the value of the work or of the
sacrifices in themselves. For such thoughts they were chastised by the
prophets often enough. They were acceptable on the ground of the true
sacrifice which they foreshadowed and encircled. Paul's thought is
this: The sacrifices of the Old Testament have passed. Now all
sacrifices are powerless but that of Christ himself; he is the
sweet-smelling savor. This sacrifice is pleasing to God. He gladly
accepts it and would have us be confident it is an acceptable offering
in our stead. Moreover, there is no other sacrifice the Christian
Church can offer for us. The once-offered Christ alone avails.
Although, following his example, we present our bodies a sacrifice, as
taught in Romans 12, 1, yet we do not do so in behalf of ourselves or
others; that is the function of the one sacrifice alone--Christ.
Therefore, all sacrifices offered in the mistaken notion that they
avail for us, or even secure forgiveness of sin, are wicked and
unsavory. But more of this elsewhere.


SINS NOT TO BE NAMED AMONG CHRISTIANS.

"But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not
even be named among you, as becometh saints."

5. In naming uncleanness in addition to fornication, the reference is
to all sensual affections in distinction from wedded love. They are
too unsavory for him to mention by name, though in Romans 1, 24 he
finds it expedient to speak of them without disguise. However, also
wedded love must be characterized by moderation among Christians.
While there is a conjugal duty to be required by necessity, it is for
the very purpose of avoiding unchastity and uncleanness. The ideal and
perfect condition, it is true, would be cohabitation with a sole view
to procreation; however, that is too high for attainment by all.

6. Paul declares that the sin he indicates should not be named of the
Ephesians. Unquestionably, among Christians there will always be some
infirm one to fall; but we must labor diligently, correcting, amending
and restraining. We must not suffer the offense to go unchallenged,
but curtail and remedy it, lest, as remarked in the preceding lesson,
the heathen stumble, saying: "Christians tolerate such vices among
themselves; their conduct is not different from our own." An
occasional fall among Christians must be borne with so long as right
prevails in general, and such things are neither tolerated nor taught,
but reproved and amended. Paul gives the counsel (Gal 6, 1) that the
brethren restore the fallen in a spirit of meekness; and he blames the
Corinthians for not reproving them who sin. 1 Cor 5, 2. A sin, once
punished, is as if the sin did not exist; it is no longer a matter of
reproach.

7. Likewise with covetousness: we are to understand that it is not to
be named of Christians. That is, should one be covetous, should one
defraud another or contend with him about temporal advantage, as
evidently was true of the Corinthians (1 Cor 6, 1), the offense must
not be suffered to go unreproved and uncorrected. The Gospel must be
carefully upheld and preserved among the multitude, "that our
ministration be not blamed." 2 Cor 6, 3.

I make this point for the sake of those who, so soon as they observe
that all Christians are not perfectly holy, but will occasionally
stumble and fall, imagine there is no such thing as a Christian and
the Gospel is impotent and fruitless. Just as if to be a Christian
meant the mountain already climbed and complete, triumphant victory
over sin! The fact is, it is rather a contest, a battle. Wherever
there is a contest, or a battle, some of the combatants will flee,
some will be wounded, some will fall and some even be slain. For
warfare is not unaccompanied by disaster if it be real warfare.

8. The writer of the epistle goes on to assign the reason why it does
not sound well to hear such things concerning Christians--because they
are saints and it behooves saints to be chaste and moderate, and to
practice and teach these virtues. Note, he calls Christians "saints,"
notwithstanding that in this life they are clothed with sinful flesh
and blood. Doubtless the term is not applied in consequence of their
good works, but because of the holy blood of Christ. For Paul says (1
Cor 6, 11): "But ye were washed, but ye were sanctified, but ye were
justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of
our God." Being holy, we should manifest our holiness by our deeds.
Though we are still weak, yet we ought duly to strive to become chaste
and free from covetousness, to the glory and honor of God and the
edifying of unbelievers.

"Nor filthiness, nor foolish talking, or jesting, which are not
befitting."

9. "Filthiness"--scandalous talk--is unchaste language suggestive of
fornication, uncleanness and carnal sins. It is common in taverns and
generally found as accompaniment of gluttony, drunkenness and
gambling. Especially were the Greeks frivolous and adepts in this
respect, as their poets and other writers attest. What Paul refers to
in particular is the lewd conversation uttered in public without fear
and self-restraint. This will excite wicked thoughts and give rise to
serious offenses, especially with the young. As he states elsewhere (1
Cor 15, 33), "Evil companionships [communications] corrupt good
morals." Should there be any Christians forgetful enough to so
transgress, the offense must be reproved; otherwise it will become
general and give the congregation an ill repute, as if Christians
taught and tolerated it the same as the heathen.


FOOLISH TALKING AND JESTING.

10. By "foolish talking" is indicated the fables and tales and other
lore in which the Greeks particularly abound--a people who possess a
special faculty for fiction of this sort. Similar are the tales
commonly related by our women and maidens while spinning at the
distaff, also those which knaves are fond of relating. Here belong
also worldly songs which either relate lewd matters or turn upon
slippery, frivolous themes. Such are "The Priest of Kalenburg,"
"Dietrich of Berne" and innumerable others.

11. Particularly unchristian is every kind of such buffoonery in the
church when men are gathered to hear and learn the Word of God. But
the practice is common where many come together. Even where at first
things of a serious nature are discussed, men soon pass to frivolous,
wanton, foolish talk, resulting in a waste of time and the neglect of
better things. For instance, on the festival of Easter, foolish,
ridiculous stories have been introduced into the sermon to arouse the
drowsy. And at the Christmas services, the absurd pantomime of rocking
a babe, and silly declamations in rhyme, have found vogue. Similarly
the festivals commemorating the three holy kings, the passion of
Christ, Dorothy and other saints were characterized.

12. In this category should also be classed the legends of the saints
and the confused mass of lies concerning miracles, pilgrimages,
masses, worship of saints, indulgencies, and so on, which once
dominated the pulpit. Yet these falsehoods are too gross to be called
merely foolish. They are not just frivolous lies merely destructive of
good morals, such as Paul refers to here, but they completely
overthrow faith and the Word of God, making sainthood impossible. Such
kind of jesting is altogether too serious. Those, however, who have
seen into them treat them as lies of the same frivolous and abominable
character as the fables or old women's tales mentioned by Paul 1 Tim
4, 7. But while the latter are mere human tales which nobody believes,
which no one will place reliance on, serving as mere occasion of
merriment, without becoming a source of general moral corruption, an
obstacle to improvement and a cause of cold, indolent Christianity,
the falsehoods of the pulpit are diabolical tales held as truth in all
seriousness, but a comedy for the devil and his angels.

13. "Jesting" has reference to those conversational expedients which
pander to gaiety in the form of scandal; they are called among us
banter and badinage. Laughter, mirth and gaiety is their purpose, and
we meet with them generally in society and high life. Among the
heathen, jesting was counted a virtue, and therefore received the
title "eutrapelia" by Aristotle. But Paul calls it a vice among
Christians, who certainly may find conversational expedients of a
different kind, such as will inspire a cheerful and joyous spirit in
Christ. True, Christians are not all so pure but that some may err in
this matter; but the Christian Church does not command jesting, nor
suffer any member to abandon himself to the practice. It reproves and
prohibits it, particularly in religious assemblies, and in teaching
and preaching. For Christ says (Mt 12, 36) that at the last day men
must give account of every idle, unprofitable word they have spoken.
Christians should be a very firm, though courteous, people. Courtesy
should be coupled with seriousness, and seriousness with courtesy,
according to the pattern of the life of Christ supplied in the Gospel.

"Which are not befitting."

14. Paul apparently would include in the catalog all unprofitable
language of whatever name. I would call those words unprofitable which
serve not to further the faith nor to supply the wants of the body and
preserve it. We have enough else to talk about during this short
lifetime, if we desire to speak, enough that is profitable and
pleasant, if we talk only of Christ, of love and of other essential
things. The apostle mentions the giving of thanks. It should be our
daily and constant employment to praise and thank God, privately and
publicly, for the great and inexpressible treasures he has given us in
Christ. But it appears that what is needful is relegated to the rear,
while objects of indifference are brought to the fore.

Now, mark you, if Paul will not tolerate banter and suggestive
conversation among Christians, what would he say of the shameful
backbiting which is heard whenever people meet, though but two
individuals? Yes, what would be his judgment of those who in public
preaching clinch and claw, attack and calumniate each other?


FRUITLESS CHRISTIANS ARE HEATHEN.

"For this ye know of a surety, that no fornicator, nor unclean person,
nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the
kingdom of Christ and God."

15. Hereby he declares in dry words that the man who does not exhibit
the fruits of faith is a heathen under the name of a Christian. Here
is absolute condemnation in a word. The whoremonger is a denier of the
faith; the unclean person is a denier of the faith; the covetous
individual is a denier of the faith: all are rebellious, perjured and
faithless toward God. Paul tells Timothy (1 Tim 5, 8): "But if any
provideth not for his own, and specially his own household, he hath
denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever." How could he utter
anything more severe, more terrifying?

He begins, "For this ye know." In other words: Doubt not; do not find
vain comfort in the thought that this is a jest or an aspersion. A
Christian name, and association with Christians, will count for
nothing. It will profit you as little as it profits the Jews to be
Abraham's seed and disciples of Moses. Christ's words (Mt 7, 21)
concern every man: "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord,
shall enter into the kingdom of heaven." There must be performance;
faith must be manifested by works.

16. If the great fire of divine love which he uses as his first
argument will not draw us, then may the terrible threat of hell fire
prove a sufficient incentive. In other words, if men follow not God,
walking in love and showing their faith by their deeds, let them know
they are not God's children, not heirs in his kingdom, and therefore
are unquestionably heirs of the evil one in hell. He who is unmoved by
the threats of hell fire must truly be a stick or a stone; indeed, he
must have a heart like an anvil, as Job says.

17. The writer of the epistle passes unusually severe sentence upon
the covetous man, for he calls him an idolater, or a worshiper of a
false God. Plainly, Paul entertained special enmity against the
covetous, for in Colossians 3, 5 he defines this sin in a similar
manner. His reasoning, I judge, is this: All other sinners turn to use
what they have and make it subservient to their lusts. Fornicators and
the unclean make their bodies serve their pleasure. The haughty employ
property, art, reputation and men to secure honor to themselves. The
unhappy idolater alone is servant to his possessions; his sin is to
save, guard and preserve property. He dare not make use of it either
for himself or for others, but worships it as his god. Rather than
touch his money, he would suffer both the kingdom of God and of the
world to perish. He will not give a farthing to the support of a
preacher or a schoolmaster for the sake of advancing God's kingdom.
Because he places his confidence, his trust, in his money rather than
in the living God, whose promises concerning ample support are
abundant, his real God is his money, and to call him an idolater is
entirely just. And, in addition, he must renounce heaven! A shameful
vice, indeed! O contemptible Unbelief! what a dangerous vice art thou!


DECEPTION BY EMPTY WORDS.

"Let no man deceive you with empty words."

18. This applies to those who gloss their unchastity over, as if it
were but a trivial sin. And some have been even such vulgar teachers
as to consider no unchastity evil except adultery, and to accept it as
a normal function, like eating and drinking. The Greek philosophers
and poets were of this class. And Terence says, "It is neither a sin
nor a shame for a youth to commit fornication." To obey such doctrine
would be to know nothing of God and to live in the lust of
concupiscence, like the gentiles who know not God, of whom we heard in
the preceding lesson. All arguments of this character are vain words;
they may fascinate the reason after a fashion; yet they are vain and
futile, unable to profit their authors.

Covetousness likewise has much false show and glitter. When one
defrauds another or seeks his own advantage to the injury of others,
his act is not at all called sin, but cleverness, economy and
sagacity, though meanwhile the poor must suffer want and even die of
hunger. Such arguments are merely the specious and blind utterances of
heathen, contrary to Christian love.

19. But we have additional light upon this subject, showing that
because of such practices the wrath of God comes upon the unbelieving.
In First Corinthians 10, 18 are cited numerous examples of punishment
for the sin of fornication. See also Num 25. Again, because of
wantonness, covetousness and unchastity, the entire world was
destroyed by the flood. This is a severe utterance but true and
indubitable.

"For because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of
disobedience."

"Sons of disobedience"--in other words, they who have fallen from the
faith. Thus we see that he who does not show his faith by his deeds,
is accounted practically an infidel. In fact, he is worse than an
infidel; he is an apostate Christian, or an apostate from the faith.
Therefore comes the wrath of God upon such, even here on earth. This
is why we Germans must suffer so much famine, pestilence, war and
bloodshed to come upon us.

20. Among these idle chatterers and misleading teachers the sluggards
and drones should beware of being classified, who, with better light
than the heathen, know full well that covetousness and unchastity are
sin. While they teach nothing to controvert this, they notwithstanding
trust for salvation in a faith barren of works, on the ground that
works cannot effect salvation. They know full well that a faith barren
of works is nothing, is a false faith; that fruit and good works must
follow a genuine faith of necessity. Nevertheless they go on in carnal
security, without fear of the wrath and judgment of God, who wants the
old Adam to be crucified, and to find good fruit on good trees.

It is possible that St. Paul does not refer in this passage to those
who, like the heathen, teach and maintain by specious arguments that
unchastity is no sin; nevertheless there is reason to apprehend that
the reward of the heathen will be meted out to them likewise; for they
live like the heathen, being strangers to both chastity and kindness.
And our apprehension is so much more justified because they have a
better knowledge of the wrong they commit. This is Paul's standpoint
when he asks (Rom 2, 3): "And reckonest thou this, O man, who judgest
them that practice such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt
escape the judgment of God?" "After thy hardness and impenitent
heart," he adds, thou "treasurest up for thyself wrath."

"Be not ye therefore partakers with them; for ye were once darkness,
but are now light in the Lord."

21. Peter similarly counsels (1 Pet 4, 3) to let the time past of our
lives suffice us to have wrought the will of the gentiles, and no
longer be partakers with them, but live the rest of our time to the
will of God. While we were gentiles we knew not that all those things
were sin, because of the darkness of unbelief, which prevented our
knowing God. But now we have become a light in the Lord. That is, we
have been so amply enlightened through Christ that we not only know
God and what he desires, and understand what sin and wrong are, but we
are also able to light others, to teach them what we know. Paul
commends the Philippians for being a light in the world, among an evil
and untoward generation. Phil 2, 15. And, similarly, when we were
gentiles we not only were darkened, not only were ignorant and went
astray, but we were darkness itself, leading others into the same
condition by our words and deeds. We have reason, then, to be thankful
unto him who has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light (1
Pet 2, 9), and to "walk as children of light."

"For the fruit of the light [Spirit] is in all goodness and
righteousness and truth."

22. Since Paul is speaking of light, it would have been more to the
point had he said "fruit of the light," in accordance with the Latin
version, than "fruit of the Spirit," the Greek rendering. And who
knows but it may, in the Greek, have been altered to harmonize with
Galatians 5, 22, where Paul speaks of the "fruit of the Spirit"? It
matters little, however; evidently "Spirit" and "light" are synonymous
in this place.

"Goodness" is the fruit of light, or of the Spirit, as opposed to
covetousness. The Christian is to be good; that is, useful, gladly
working his neighbor's good. "Righteousness," as fruit of the Spirit
among men--for the Spirit also is righteous before God--is opposed to
covetousness. The Christian must not take another's possessions by
force, trickery or fraud, but must give to each his due, his own, even
to the heathen authorities. See Rom 13, 1. "Truth" is the fruit of the
Spirit as opposed to hypocrisy and lies. A Christian is not only to be
truthful in word, but honest in life. He should not bear the name
without the works; he cannot be a Christian and yet live a heathenish
life, a life of unchastity, covetousness and other vices.



_Fourth Sunday In Lent_

Text: Galatians 4, 21-31.

21 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the
law? 22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, one by the
handmaid, and one by the freewomen. 23 Howbeit the son by the handmaid
is born after the flesh; but the son by the freewoman is born through
promise. 24 Which things contain an allegory: for these women are two
covenants; one from mount Sinai, bearing children unto bondage, which
is Hagar. 25 Now this Hagar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to
the Jerusalem that now is: for she is in bondage with her children. 26
But the Jerusalem that is above is free, which is our mother. 27 For
it is written,

  Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not;
  Break forth and cry, thou that travailest not:
  For more are the children of the desolate than of her that hath the
    husband.

28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. 29 But as
then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born
after the Spirit, so also it is now. 30 Howbeit what saith the
scripture? Cast out the handmaid and her son; for the son of the
handmaid shall not inherit with the son of the freewoman. 31
Wherefore, brethren, we are not children of a handmaid, but of the
freewoman.


THE CHILDREN OF PROMISE.

This lesson is amply expounded in my commentary on the Epistle to the
Galatians. It is unnecessary to repeat the exposition here, for it may
be found and read there. He who desires further information on the
subject may read the postils on the epistle lesson for the Sunday
after Christmas and that for New Year's Day. There he will find all
information. Thus will be obviated the necessity of repeating the
discourse in various places.



_Fifth Sunday In Lent_

Text: Hebrews 9, 11-15.

11 But Christ having come a high priest of the good things to come,
through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands,
that is to say, not of this creation, 12 nor yet through the blood of
goats and calves, but through his own blood, entered in once for all
into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the
blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling them
that have been defiled, sanctify unto the cleanness of the flesh: 14
how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal
Spirit offered himself without blemish unto God, cleanse your
conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this
cause he is the mediator of a new covenant, that a death having taken
place for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the
first covenant, they that have been called may receive the promise of
the eternal inheritance.


CHRIST OUR GREAT HIGH PRIEST.

1. An understanding of practically all of the Epistle to the Hebrews
is necessary before we can hope to make this text clear to ourselves.
Briefly, the epistle treats of a two-fold priesthood. The former
priesthood was a material one, with material adornment, tabernacle,
sacrifices and with pardon couched in ritual; material were all its
appointments. The new order is a spiritual priesthood, with spiritual
adornments, spiritual tabernacle and sacrifices--spiritual in all that
pertains to it. Christ, in the exercise of his priestly office, in the
sacrifice on the cross, was not adorned with silk and gold and
precious stones, but with divine love, wisdom, patience, obedience and
all virtues. His adornment was apparent to none but God and possessors
of the Spirit, for it was spiritual.

2. Christ sacrificed not goats nor calves nor birds; not bread; not
blood nor flesh, as did Aaron and his posterity: he offered his own
body and blood, and the manner of the sacrifice was spiritual; for it
took place through the Holy Spirit, as here stated. Though the body
and blood of Christ were visible the same as any other material
object, the fact that he offered them as a sacrifice was not apparent.
It was not a visible sacrifice, as in the case of offerings at the
hands of Aaron. Then the goat or calf, the flesh and blood, were
material sacrifices visibly offered, and recognized as sacrifices. But
Christ offered himself in the heart before God. His sacrifice was
perceptible to no mortal. Therefore, his bodily flesh and blood
becomes a spiritual sacrifice. Similarly, we Christians, the posterity
of Christ our Aaron, offer up our own bodies. Rom 12, 1. And our
offering is likewise a spiritual sacrifice, or, as Paul has it, a
"reasonable service"; for we make it in spirit, and it is beheld of
God alone.

3. Again, in the new order, the tabernacle or house is spiritual; for
it is heaven, or the presence of God. Christ hung upon a cross; he was
not offered in a temple. He was offered before the eyes of God, and
there he still abides. The cross is an altar in a spiritual sense. The
material cross was indeed visible, but none knew it as Christ's altar.
Again, his prayer, his sprinkled blood, his burnt incense, were all
spiritual, for it was all wrought through his spirit.

4. Accordingly, the fruit and blessing of his office and sacrifice,
the forgiveness of our sins and our justification, are likewise
spiritual. In the Old Covenant, the priest with his sacrifices and
sprinklings of blood effected merely as it were an external
absolution, or pardon, corresponding to the childhood stage of the
people. The recipient was permitted to move publicly among the people;
he was externally holy and as one restored from excommunication. He
who failed to obtain absolution from the priest was unholy, being
denied membership in the congregation and enjoyment of its privileges;
in all respects he was separated like those in the ban today.

5. But such absolution rendered no one inwardly holy and just before
God. Something beyond that was necessary to secure true forgiveness.
It was the same principle which governs church discipline today. He
who has received no more than the remission, or absolution, of the
ecclesiastical judge will surely remain forever out of heaven. On the
other hand, he who is in the ban of the Church is hellward bound only
when the sentence is confirmed at a higher tribunal. I can make no
better comparison than to say that it was the same in the old Jewish
priesthood as now in the Papal priesthood, which, with its loosing and
binding, can prohibit or permit only external communion among
Christians. It is true, God required such measures in the time of the
Jewish dispensation, that he might restrain by fear; just as now he
sanctions church discipline when rightly employed, in order to punish
and restrain the evil-doer, though it has no power in itself to raise
people to holiness or to push them into wickedness.

6. But with the priesthood of Christ is true spiritual remission,
sanctification and absolution. These avail before God--God grant that
it be true of us--whether we be outwardly excommunicated, or holy, or
not. Christ's blood has obtained for us pardon forever acceptable with
God. God will forgive our sins for the sake of that blood so long as
its power shall last and its intercession for grace in our behalf,
which is forever. Therefore, we are forever holy and blessed before
God. This is the substance of the text. Now that we shall find it easy
to understand, we will briefly consider it.

"But Christ having come a high priest of the good things to come."

7. The adornment of Aaron and his descendants, the high priests, was
of a material nature, and they obtained for the people a merely formal
remission of sins, performing their office in a perishable temple, or
tabernacle. It was evident to men that their absolution and
sanctification before the congregation was a temporal blessing
confined to the present. But when Christ came upon the cross no one
beheld him as he went before God in the Holy Spirit, adorned with
every grace and virtue, a true High Priest. The blessings wrought by
him are not temporal--a merely formal pardon--but the "blessings to
come"; namely, blessings which are spiritual and eternal. Paul speaks
of them as blessings to come, not that we are to await the life to
come before we can have forgiveness and all the blessings of divine
grace, but because now we possess them only in faith. They are as yet
hidden, to be revealed in the future life. Again, the blessings we
have in Christ were, from the standpoint of the Old Testament
priesthood, blessings to come.

"Through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands,
that is to say, not of this creation."

8. The apostle does not name the tabernacle he mentions; nor can he,
so strange its nature! It exists only in the sight of God, and is ours
in faith, to be revealed hereafter. It is not made with hands, like
the Jewish tabernacle; in other words, not of "this building." The old
tabernacle, like all buildings of its nature, necessarily was made of
wood and other temporal materials created by God. God says in Isaiah
66, 1-2: "What manner of house will ye build unto me?... For all these
things hath my hand made, and so all these things came to be." But
that greater tabernacle has not yet form; it is not yet finished. God
is building it and he shall reveal it. Christ's words are (Jn 14, 3),
"And if I go and prepare a place for you."

"Nor yet through the blood of goats and calves, but through his own
blood, entered in once for all into the holy place, having obtained
eternal redemption."

9. According to Leviticus 16, the high priest must once a year enter
into the holy place with the blood of rams and other offerings, and
with these make formal reconciliation for the people. This ceremony
typified that Christ, the true Priest, should once die for us, to
obtain for us the true atonement. But the former sacrifice, having to
be repeated every year, was but a temporary and imperfect atonement;
it did not eternally suffice, as does the atonement of Christ. For
though we fall and sin repeatedly, we have confidence that the blood
of Christ does not fall, or sin; it remains steadfast before God, and
the expiation is perpetual and eternal. Under its sway grace is
perpetually renewed, without work or merit on our part, provided we do
not stand aloof in unbelief.

"For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer," etc.

10. Concerning the water of separation and the ashes of the red
heifer, read Numbers 19; and concerning the blood of bulls and goats,
Leviticus 16, 14-15. According to Paul, these were formal and temporal
purifications, as I stated above. But Christ, in God's sight, purifies
the conscience of dead works; that is, of sins meriting death, and of
works performed in sin and therefore dead. Christ purifies from these,
that we may serve the living God by living works.

"And for this cause he is the mediator of a new covenant [testament],"
etc.

11. Under the old law, which provided only for formal, or ritualistic,
pardon, and restored to human fellowship, sin and transgressions
remained, burdening the conscience. It--the old law--did not benefit
the soul at all, inasmuch as God did not institute it to purify and
safeguard the conscience, nor to bestow the Spirit. It existed merely
for the purpose of outward discipline, restraint and correction. So
Paul teaches that under the Old Testament dispensation man's
transgressions remained, but now Christ is our Mediator through his
blood; by it our conscience is freed from sin in the sight of God,
inasmuch as God promises the Spirit through the blood of Christ. All,
however, do not receive him. Only those called to be heirs eternal,
the elect, receive the Spirit.

12. We find, then, in this excellent lesson, the comforting doctrine
taught that Christ is he whom we should know as the Priest and Bishop
of our souls; that no sin is forgiven, nor the Holy Spirit given, by
reason of works or merit on our part, but alone through the blood of
Christ, and that to those for whom God has ordained it. This matter
has been sufficiently set forth in the various postils.



_Palm Sunday_

Text: Philippians 2, 5-11.

5 Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 who,
existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with
God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a
servant, being made in the likeness of men; 8 and being found in
fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto
death, yea, the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore also God highly
exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name; 10
that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven
and things on earth and things under the earth, 11 and that every
tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God
the Father.


CHRIST AN EXAMPLE OF LOVE.

1. Here Paul again presents to us as a powerful example of the
celestial and eternal fire, the love of Christ, for the purpose of
persuading us to exercise a loving concern for one another. The
apostle employs fine words and precious admonitions, having perceived
the indolence and negligence displayed by Christians in this matter of
loving. For this the flesh is responsible. The flesh continually
resists the willing spirit, seeking its own interest and causing sects
and factions. Although a sermon on this same text went forth in my
name a few years ago, entitled "The Twofold Righteousness," the text
was not exhausted; therefore we will now examine it word by word.

"Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus."

2. You are Christians; you have Christ, and in him and through him all
fullness of comfort for time and eternity: therefore nothing should
appeal to your thought, your judgment, your pleasure, but that which
was in the mind of Christ concerning you as the source of your
welfare. For his motive throughout was not his own advantage;
everything he did was done for your sake and in your interest. Let men
therefore, in accord with his example, work every good thing for one
another's benefit.

"Who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an
equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking
the form of a servant."

["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 him the
form of a servant."]

3. If Christ, who was true God by nature, has humbled himself to
become servant of all, how much more should such action befit us who
are of no worth, and are by nature children of sin, death and the
devil! Were we similarly to humble ourselves, and even to go beyond
Christ in humility--a thing, however, impossible--we should do nothing
extraordinary. Our humility would still reek of sin in comparison with
his. Suppose Christ to humble himself in the least degree--but a
hair's breadth, so to speak--below the most exalted angels; and
suppose we were to humble ourselves to a position a thousand times
more abased than that of the devils in hell; yet our humility would
not compare in the least with that of Christ. For he is an infinite
blessing--God himself--and we are but miserable creatures whose
existence and life are not for one moment secure.

4. What terrible judgment must come upon those who fail to imitate the
ineffable example of Christ; who do not humble themselves below their
neighbors and serve them, but rather exalt themselves above them!
Indeed, the example of Christ may well terrify the exalted, and those
high in authority; and still more the self-exalted. Who would not
shrink from occupying the uppermost seat and from lording it over
others when he sees the Son of God humble and eliminate himself?

5. The phrase "form of God" does not receive the same interpretation
from all. Some understand Paul to refer to the divine essence and
nature in Christ; meaning that Christ, though true God, humbled
himself. While Christ is indeed true God, Paul is not speaking here of
his divine essence, which is concealed. The word he uses--"morphe," or
"forma"--he employs again where he tells of Christ taking upon himself
the form of a servant. "Form of a servant" certainly cannot signify
"essence of a real servant"--possessing by nature the qualities of a
servant. For Christ is not our servant by nature; he has become our
servant from good will and favor toward us. For the same reason
"divine form" cannot properly mean "divine essence"; for divine
essence is not visible, while the divine form was truly seen. Very
well; then let us use the vernacular, and thus make the apostle's
meaning clear.

6. "Form of God," then, means the assumption of a divine attitude and
bearing, or the manifestation of divinity in port and presence; and
this not privately, but before others, who witness such form and
bearing. To speak in the clearest possible manner: Divine bearing and
attitude are in evidence when one manifests in word and deed that
which pertains peculiarly to God and suggests divinity. Accordingly,
"the form of a servant" implies the assumption of the attitude and
bearing of a servant in relation to others. It might be better to
render "Morphe tu dulu," by "the bearing of a servant," that means,
manners of such character that whoever sees the person must take him
for a servant. This should make it clear that the passage in question
does not refer to the manifestation of divinity or servility as such,
but to the characteristics and the expression of the same. For, as
previously stated, the essence is concealed, but its manifestation is
public. The essence implies a condition, while its expression implies
action.

7. As regards these forms, or manifestations, a threefold aspect is
suggested by the words of Paul. The essence may exist without the
manifestation; there may be a manifestation without the corresponding
essence; and finally, we may find the essence together with its proper
manifestation. For instance, when God conceals himself and gives no
indication of his presence, there is divinity, albeit not manifest.
This is the case when he is grieved and withdraws his grace. On the
other hand, when he discloses his grace, there is both the essence and
its manifestation. But the third aspect is inconceivable for God,
namely, a manifestation of divinity without the essence. This is
rather a trick of the devil and his servants, who usurp the place of
God and act as God, though they are anything but divine. An
illustration of this we find in Ezekiel 28, 2, where the king of Tyre
is recorded as representing his heart, which was certainly decidedly
human, as that of a god.

8. Similarly, the form, or bearing, of a servant may be considered
from a threefold aspect. One may be a servant and not deport himself
as such, but as a lord, or as God; as in the instance just mentioned.
Of such a one Solomon speaks (Prov 29, 21), saying: "He that
delicately bringeth up his servant from a child shall have him become
a son at the last." Such are all the children of Adam. We who are
rightly God's servants would be God himself. This is what the devil
taught Eve when he said, "Ye shall be as God." Gen 3, 5. Again, one
may be a servant and conduct himself as one, as all just and faithful
servants behave before the world; and as all true Christians conduct
themselves in God's sight, being subject to him and serving all men.
Thirdly, one may be not a servant and yet behave as one. For instance,
a king might minister to his servants before the world. Before God,
however, all men being servants, this situation is impossible with
men; no one has so done but Christ. He says at the supper (Jn 13,
13-14): "Ye call me, Teacher, and, Lord: and ye say well; for so I
am," and yet I am among you as a servant. And in another place (Mt 20,
28), "The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister."

9. From these explanations Paul's meaning must have become clear. His
thought is: Christ was in the form of God; that is, both the essence
and the bearing of Deity were his. He did not assume the divine form
as he did that of a servant. He was, I repeat it; he was in the form
of God. The little word "was" expresses that divinity was his both in
essence and form. The meaning is: Many assume and display an
appearance of divinity, but are not themselves actually divine; the
devil, for instance, and Antichrist and Adam's children. This is
sacrilege--the assumption of divinity by an act of robbery. See Rom 2,
22. Though the offender does not look upon such conduct as robbery, it
is none the less robbing divine honor, and is so regarded by God and
angels and saints, and even by his own conscience. But Christ, who had
not come by divinity through arrogating it to himself, but was divine
by nature according to his very essence, did not deem his divinity a
thing he had grasped; nor could he, knowing divinity to be his very
birthright, and holding it as his own natural possession from
eternity.

10. So Paul's words commend Christ's essential divinity and his love
toward us, and at the same time correct all who falsely assume a
divine form. Such are we all so long as we are the devil's members.
The thought is: The devil's members all would be God, would rob the
divinity they do not possess; and they must admit their action to be
robbery, for conscience testifies, indeed must testify, that they are
not God. Though they may despise the testimony of conscience and fail
to heed it, yet the testimony stands, steadfastly maintaining the act
as not right--as a malicious robbery.

But the one man, Christ, who did not assume the divine form but was in
it by right and had a claim upon it from eternity; who did not and
could not hold it robbery to be equal with God; this man humbled
himself, taking upon him the form of a servant--not his rightful
form--that he by the power of his winning example, might induce them
to assume the bearing of servants who possessed the form and character
of servants, but who, refusing to own them, appropriated the
appearance of divinity upon which they had no claim, since the essence
of divinity was forever beyond them.

11. That some fail to understand readily this great text, is due to
the fact that they do not accept Paul's words as spoken, but
substitute their own ideas of what he should have said, namely: Christ
was born true God and did not rob divinity, etc. The expression "who,
existing in the form of God" sounds, in the Greek and Latin, almost as
if Christ had merely borne himself as God, unless particular regard be
given to the words "existing in," which Paul contrasts with the phrase
"took upon him." Christ took upon himself the form of a servant, it is
true, but in that form was no real servant. Just so, while dispensing
with a divine appearance, behind the appearance chosen was God. And we
likewise take upon ourselves the divine form, but in the form we are
not divine; and we spurn the form of servants, though that is what we
are irrespective of appearance. Christ disrobes himself of the divine
form wherein he existed, to assume that of a servant, which did not
express his essential character; but we lay aside the servant form of
our real being and take upon ourselves, or arrogate to ourselves, the
form of God to which we are not fitted by what we are in reality.

12. They are startled by this expression also: "Christ thought it not
robbery to be equal with God." Now, at first sight these words do not
seem to refer solely to Christ, since even the devil and his own, who
continually aspire to equality with God, do not think their action
robbery in spite of the testimony of their conscience to the contrary.
But with Paul the little word "think," or "regard," possesses a
powerful significance, having the force of "perfect assurance."
Similarly he says (Rom 3, 28), "We reckon therefore that a man is
justified by faith apart from the works of the law"; and (1 Cor 7,
40), "I think [deem] that I also have the spirit of God." But the
wicked cannot boast it no robbery when they dare take upon themselves
the form of God; for they know, they are satisfied in themselves, that
they are not God. Christ, however, did not, nor could he, think
himself not equal to God; in other words, he was confident of his
equality with God, and knew he had not stolen the honor.

Paul's words are chosen, not as an apology for Christ, but as a severe
rebuke for those who arrogate to themselves the form of God against
the protest of conscience that it is not their own but stolen. The
apostle would show how infinitely Christ differs from them, and that
the divine form they would take by theft is Christ's by right.

13. Paul does not use this expression, however, when he refers to
Christ's assumption of the servant form which is his, not by nature,
but by assumption. The words produce the impression that Christ took
by force something not his own. Paul should be expected to say: "He
held it not robbery to assume the form of a servant." Why should he
rather have chosen that form of expression in the first instance,
since Christ did not assume the divine form, but possessed it as his
very own--yes, laid it aside and assumed a form foreign to his nature?
The substance of the matter is that he who becomes a servant does not
and cannot assume anything, but only gives, giving even himself. Hence
there is no warrant here to speak of robbery or of a disposition to
look upon the matter in this light.

On the other hand, assumption of the divine form necessarily involves
taking, and altogether precludes giving. Hence there is warrant to
speak of robbery in this connection, and of men who so view it. But
this charge cannot be brought against Christ. He does not render
himself guilty of robbery, nor does he so view his relation, as all
others must do. Divinity is his by right, and so is its appropriate
form a birthright.

14. Thus, it seems to me, this text very clearly teaches that to have
divine form is simply to assume in regard to others, in word and deed,
the bearing of God and Lord; and that Christ meets this test in the
miraculous signs and life-giving words, as the Gospels contend. He
does not rank with the saints who lack the divine essence; he has, in
addition to divine form, the divine essence and nature. On the other
hand, the servant, or servile, form implies acting toward others, in
word and deed, like a servant. Thus Christ did when he served the
disciples and gave himself for us. But he served not as the saints,
who are servants by nature. Service was, with him, something assumed
for our benefit and as an example for us to follow, teaching us to act
in like manner toward others, to disrobe ourselves of the appearance
of divinity as he did, as we shall see.

15. Unquestionably, then, Paul proclaims Christ true God. Had he been
mere man, what would have been the occasion for saying that he became
like a man and was found in the fashion of other men? and that he
assumed the form of a servant though he was in form divine? Where
would be the sense in my saying to you, "You are like a man, are made
in the fashion of a man, and take upon yourself the form of a
servant"? You would think I was mocking you, and might appropriately
reply: "I am glad you regard me as a man; I was wondering if I were an
ox or a wolf. Are you mad or foolish?" Would not that be the natural
rejoinder to such a foolish statement? Now, Paul not being foolish,
nor being guilty of foolish speech, there truly must have been
something exalted and divine about Christ. For when the apostle
declares that he was made like unto other men, though the fact of his
being human is undisputed, he simply means that the man Christ was
God, and could, even in his humanity, have borne himself as divine.
But this is precisely what he did not do; he refrained: he disrobed
himself of his divinity and bore himself as a mere man like others.

16. What follows concerning Christ, now that we understand the meaning
of "form of God" and "form of a servant," is surely plain. In fact,
Paul himself tells us what he means by "form of a servant." First: He
makes the explanation that Christ disrobed, or divested himself; that
is, appeared to lay aside his divinity in that he divested himself of
its benefit and glory. Not that he did, or could, divest himself of
his divine nature; but that he laid aside the form of divine
majesty--did not act as the God he truly was. Nor did he divest
himself of the divine form to the extent of making it unfelt and
invisible; in that case there would have been no divine form left. He
simply did not affect a divine appearance and dazzle us by its
splendor; rather he served us with that divinity. He performed
miracles. And during his suffering on the cross he, with divine power,
gave to the murderer the promise of Paradise. Lk 23, 43. And in the
garden, similarly, he repelled the multitude by a word. Jn 18, 6.

Hence Paul does not say that Christ was divested by some outside
power; he says Christ "made himself" of no repute. Just so the wise
man does not in a literal way lay aside wisdom and the appearance of
wisdom, but discards them for the purpose of serving the simple-minded
who might fittingly serve him. Such man makes himself of no reputation
when he divests himself of his wisdom and the appearance of wisdom.

17. Second: Christ assumed the form of a servant, even while remaining
God and having the form of God; he was God, and his divine words and
works were spoken and wrought for our benefit. As a servant, he served
us with these. He did not require us to serve him in compensation for
them, as in the capacity of a Lord he had a just right to do. He
sought not honor or profit thereby, but our benefit and salvation. It
was a willing service and gratuitously performed, for the good of men.
It was a service unspeakably great, because of the ineffable greatness
of the minister and servant--God eternal, whom all angels and
creatures serve. He who is not by this example heartily constrained to
serve his fellows, is justly condemned. He is harder than stone,
darker than hell and utterly without excuse.

18. Third: "Being made in the likeness of men." Born of Mary, Christ's
nature became human. But even in that humanity he might have exalted
himself above all men and served none. But he forbore and became as
other men. And by "likeness of men" we must understand just ordinary
humanity without special privilege whatever. Now, without special
privilege there is no disparity among men. Understand, then, Paul says
in effect: Christ was made as any other man who has neither riches,
honor, power nor advantage above his fellows; for many inherit power,
honor and property by birth. So lowly did Christ become, and with such
humility did he conduct himself, that no mortal is too lowly to be his
equal, even servants and the poor. At the same time, Christ was sound,
without bodily infirmities, as man in his natural condition might be
expected to be.

19. Fourth: "And being found in fashion as a man." That is, he
followed the customs and habits of men, eating and drinking, sleeping
and waking, walking and standing, hungering and thirsting, enduring
cold and heat, knowing labor and weariness, needing clothing and
shelter, feeling the necessity of prayer, and having the same
experience as any other man in his relation to God and the world. He
had power to avoid these conditions; as God he might have demeaned and
borne himself quite differently. But in becoming man, as above stated,
he fared as a human being, and he accepted the necessities of ordinary
mortals while all the time he manifested the divine form which
expressed his true self.

20. Fifth: "He humbled himself," or debased himself. In addition to
manifesting his servant form in becoming man and faring as an ordinary
human being, he went farther and made himself lower than any man. He
abased himself to serve all men with the supreme service--the gift of
his life in our behalf.

21. Sixth: He not only made himself subject to men, but also to sin,
death and the devil, and bore it all for us. He accepted the most
ignominious death, the death on the cross, dying not as a man but as a
worm (Ps 22, 6); yes, as an arch-knave, a knave above all knaves, in
that he lost even what favor, recognition and honor were due to the
assumed servant form in which he had revealed himself, and perished
altogether.

22. Seventh: All this Christ surely did not do because we were worthy
of it. Who could be worthy such service from such a one? Obedience to
the Father moved him. Here Paul with one word unlocks heaven and
permits us to look into the unfathomable abyss of divine majesty and
to behold the ineffable love of the Fatherly heart toward us--his
gracious will for us. He shows us how from eternity it has been God's
pleasure that Christ, the glorious one who has wrought all this,
should do it for us. What human heart would not melt at the
joy-inspiring thought? Who would not love, praise and thank God and in
return for his goodness, not only be ready to serve the world, but
gladly to embrace the extremity of humility? Who would not so do when
he is aware that God himself has such precious regard for him, and
points to the obedience of his Son as the pouring out and evidence of
his Fatherly will. Oh, the significance of the words Paul here uses!
such words as he uses in no other place! He must certainly have burned
with joy and cheer. To gain such a glimpse of God--surely this must be
coming to the Father through Christ. Here is truly illustrated the
truth that no one comes to Christ except the Father draw him; and with
what power, what delicious sweetness, the Father allures! How many are
the preachers of the faith who imagine they know it all, when they
have received not even an odor or taste of these things! How soon are
they become masters who have never been disciples! Not having tasted
God's love, they cannot impart it; hence they remain unprofitable
babblers.

"Wherefore also God highly exalted him."

23. As Christ was cast to the lowest depths and subjected to all
devils, in obeying God and serving us, so has God exalted him Lord
over all angels and creatures, and over death and hell. Christ now has
completely divested himself of the servant form--laid it aside.
Henceforth he exists in the divine form, glorified, proclaimed,
confessed, honored and recognized as God.

While it is not wholly apparent to us that "all things are put in
subjection" to Christ, as Paul says (1 Cor 15, 27), the trouble is
merely with our perception of the fact. It is true that Christ is thus
exalted in person and seated on high in the fullness of power and
might, executing everywhere his will; though few believe the order of
events is for the sake of Christ. Freely the events order themselves,
and the Lord sits enthroned free from all restrictions. But our eyes
are as yet blinded. We do not perceive him there nor recognize that
all things obey his will. The last day, however, will reveal it. Then
we shall comprehend present mysteries; how Christ laid aside his
divine form, was made man, and so on; how he also laid aside the form
of a servant and resumed the divine likeness; how as God he appeared
in glory; and how he is now Lord of life and death, and the King of
Glory.

This must suffice on the text. For how we, too, should come down from
our eminence and serve others has been sufficiently treated of in
other postils. Remember, God desires us to serve one another with
body, property, honor, spirit and soul, even as his Son served us.



SUMMER PART



_Easter Sunday_

Text: First Corinthians 5, 6-8.

6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven
leaveneth the whole lump? 7 Purge out the old leaven, that ye may be a
new lump, even as ye are unleavened. For our passover also hath been
sacrificed, even Christ: 8 wherefore let us keep the feast, not with
old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with
the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.


EXHORTATION TO WALK AS CHRISTIANS.[1]

[Footnote 1: This and all the following sermons on the Epistle Texts
were first printed in 1540 and 1543 and included in the Epistle
Postil.]

1. When God was about to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, he
commanded, shortly before their departure, that they should eat the
Passover the night they started; and as a perpetual memorial of their
redemption, they were annually, on the recurrence of the season, to
celebrate the feast of Easter for seven days. A specially urgent
feature of the command was that on the first evening of the feast they
must put out of their houses all leaven and leavened bread, and during
the seven days eat none but the unleavened bread, or cakes. Hence the
evangelists speak of the feast as the Feast (or Days) of Unleavened
Bread. Mk 14, 1; Lk 22, 1.

2. Paul, in this lesson, explains the figure in brief but beautiful
and expressive words. He is prompted to introduce the subject by the
fact that in the preceding verses of this chapter he has been
reproving the Corinthians for their disposition to boast of the Gospel
and of Christ while abusing such liberty unto unchastity and other
sins. He admonishes them that, possessing the Gospel and having become
Christians, they ought, as becomes Christians, to live according to
the Gospel, avoiding everything not consistent with the faith and with
Christian character--everything not befitting them as new creatures.

3. So the apostle uses the figure of the Paschal lamb and unleavened
bread requisite at the Jews' Feast of the Passover, in his effort to
point the Corinthians to the true character and purpose of the New
Testament made with us in the kingdom of Christ. He explains what is
the true Paschal Lamb and what the unleavened bread, and how to
observe the real Passover, wherein all must be new and spiritual. In
the joy and wealth of his mind he presents this analogy to remind them
that they are Christians and to consider what that means.

His meaning is: Being Christians and God's true people, and called
upon to observe a Passover, you must go about it in the right way,
putting away from you all remaining leaven until it shall have been
purged out utterly.

What Paul means by "leaven" is told later in his phrase "neither with
the leaven of malice and wickedness"; he means whatever is evil and
wicked. Everything foreign to Christianity in both doctrine, or faith,
and life, is "leaven." From all this Paul would have Christians purge
themselves with the same thoroughness with which the leaven was to be
put away from their Easter according to the law. And, holding to the
figure, he would have us observe our Passover in the use of the sweet
bread, which, in distinction from the leaven, signifies sincerity and
truth, or a nature and life completely new.

4. The text, then, is but an admonition to upright Christian works,
directed to those who have heard the Gospel and learned to know
Christ. This is what Paul figuratively calls partaking of the true
unleavened bread--or wafers, or cakes. We Germans have borrowed our
word "cakes" from the phraseology of the Jewish Church, abbreviating
"oblaten," wafers, into "fladen," or cakes. How else should we
gentiles get the idea of cakes on Easter, when at our Passover we, by
faith, eat the Paschal Lamb, Christ? We are admonished to partake of
the true unleavened bread, that life and conduct may accord with faith
in Christ, whom we have learned to know. Paul's admonition begins:

"Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?"

5. This by way of introducing the succeeding admonitions. Leaven is a
common figure with the apostle, one he uses frequently, almost
proverbially; employing it, too, in his epistle to the Galatians (ch.
5, 9). Christ, also, gives us a Scripture parable of the leaven. Mt
13, 33. It is the nature of leaven that a small quantity mixed with a
lump of dough will pervade and fill the whole lump until its own acid
nature has been imparted to it. This Paul makes a figure of spiritual
things as regards both doctrine and life.

6. In Galatians 5, 9 he makes it more especially typify false
doctrine. For it is just as true that the introduction of an error in
an article of faith will soon work injury to the whole and result in
the loss of Christ. Thus it was with the Galatians. The one thing
insisted upon by the false apostles was circumcision, though they
fully intended to preach the Gospel of Christ. Such innovation will
pursue its course with destructive sweep until even the uncontaminated
part becomes worthless; the once pure mass is wholly corrupted. The
apostle writes to the Galatians (ch. 5, 2): "Behold, I Paul say unto
you, that, if ye receive circumcision, Christ will profit you
nothing." Again (verse 4), "Ye are severed from Christ--ye are fallen
away from grace."

But in this text he has reference more particularly to an erroneous
idea concerning life and conduct. In this instance it is likewise true
that, once the flesh be allowed any license, and liberty be abused,
and that under the name of the Gospel, there is introduced a leaven
which will speedily corrupt faith and conscience, and continue its
work until Christ and the Gospel are lost. Such would have been the
fate of the Corinthians had not Paul saved them from it by this
epistle admonishing and urging them to purge out the leaven of
license; for they had begun to practice great wantonness, and had
given rise to sects and factions which tended to subvert the one
Gospel and the one faith.

7. This is, then, wise counsel and serious admonition, that faithful
guard be maintained against the infusion or introduction into doctrine
of what is false, whether it pertains to works or faith. The Word of
God, faith and conscience are very delicate things. The old proverb
says: "Non patitur jocum fama, fides, oculus;"--Good reputation, faith
and the eye--these three will bear no jest.

Just as good wine or precious medicines are corrupted by a single drop
of poison or other impurity, and the purer they are, the more readily
defiled and poisoned; so, also, God's Word and his cause will bear
absolutely no alloy. God's truth must be perfectly pure and clear, or
else, it is corrupt and unprofitable. And the worst feature of the
matter is, the sway and intrenchment of evil is so strong that it
cannot be removed; just as leaven, however small the quantity, added
to the lump of dough, soon penetrates and sours the whole lump, while
it is impossible to arrest its influence or once more to sweeten the
dough.

8. The proposal of certain wise minds to mediate, and effect a
compromise, between us and our opponents of the Papacy, is wrong and
useless. They would permit preaching of the Gospel but at the same
time retain the Papistical abuses, advocating that these errors be not
all censured and rejected, because of the weak; and that for the sake
of peace and unity we should somehow moderate and restrict our
demands, each party being ready to yield to the other and patiently
bear with it. While in such case no perfect purity can be claimed to
exist, the situation can be made endurable if discretion is used and
trouble is taken to explain.

Nay, not so! For, as you hear, Paul would not mix even a small
quantity of leaven with the pure lump, and God himself has urgently
forbidden it. The slight alloy would thoroughly penetrate and corrupt
the whole. Where human additions are made to the Gospel doctrine in
but a single point, the injury is done; truth is obscured and souls
are led astray. Therefore, such mixture, such patchwork, in doctrine
is not to be tolerated. As Christ teaches (Mt 9, 16), we must not put
new cloth upon an old garment.

9. Nor may we in our works and in our daily life tolerate the yielding
to the wantonness of the flesh and at the same time boast the Gospel
of Christ, as did the Corinthians, who stirred up among themselves
divisions and disorder, even to the extent of one marrying his
stepmother. In such matters as these, Paul says, a little leaven
leavens and ruins the whole lump--the entire Christian life.

These two things are not consistent with each other: to hold to the
Christian faith and to live after the wantonness of the flesh, in sins
and vices condemned by the conscience. Paul elsewhere warns (1 Cor 6,
9-10): "Be not deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor
adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with men, nor
thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners,
shall inherit the kingdom of God." Again (Gal 5, 19-21): "The works of
the flesh are manifest ... of which I forewarn you, even as I did
forewarn you, that they who practice such things shall not inherit the
kingdom of God."

10. Warrant is given here likewise for censuring and restraining the
rash individuals who assert that men should not be terrified by the
Law, nor surrendered to Satan. No! it is our duty to teach men to
purge out the old leaven; we must tell them they are not Christians,
but devoid of the faith, when they yield to the wantonness of the
flesh and wilfully persevere in sin against the warning of conscience.
We should teach that such sins are so much the more vicious and
damnable when practiced under the name of the Gospel, under cover of
Christian liberty; for that is despising and blaspheming the name of
Christ and the Gospel: and therefore such conduct must be positively
renounced and purged out, as irreconcilable with faith and a good
conscience.

"Purge out the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, even as ye are
unleavened."

11. If we are to be a new, sweet lump, Paul says, we must purge out
the old leaven. For, as stated, a nature renewed by faith and
Christianity will not admit of our living as we did when devoid of
faith and in sin, under the influence of an evil conscience. We cannot
consistently be "a new lump" and partake of the Passover, and at the
same time permit the old leaven to remain: for if the latter be not
purged out, the whole lump will be leavened and corrupted; our
previous sinful nature will again have supremacy and overthrow the
faith, the holiness upon which we have entered and a good conscience.

12. Paul does not here speak of leaven in general; he commands to
purge out the "old leaven," implying there may be good leaven.
Doubtless he is influenced by respect for the words of the Lord Christ
where (Mt 13, 33) he likens the kingdom of heaven also to leaven. In
this latter case leaven cannot be bad in quality; rather, the object
in mixing it with the lump is to produce good, new bread. Reference is
to the Word of God, or the preaching of the Gospel, whereby we are
incorporated into the kingdom of Christ, or the Christian Church.
Though the Gospel appears to be mean, is despicable and objectionable
to the world, yet such is its power that wherever introduced it
spreads, finding disciples in whom it works; it transforms them,
giving to them its own properties, even as leaven imparts its powers
to the dough and causes it to rise.

But Paul refers here to old, inactive and worthless leaven. He means
teachings, views, or manner of life resulting from the Old Adam, from
flesh and blood, and destructive of the pure, new doctrine, or a
nature renewed by Christianity. Later on he terms it the "leaven of
malice and wickedness," and in the verse under consideration bids the
Corinthians be a new, pure lump.

13. Note the apostle's peculiar words. He enjoins purging out the old
leaven, assigning as reason the fact: Ye are a new and unleavened
lump. By a new unleavened lump he means that faith which clings to
Christ and believes in the forgiveness of sin through him; for he
immediately speaks of our Passover: Christ, sacrificed for us. By this
faith the Corinthians are now purified from the old leaven, the leaven
of sin and an evil conscience, and have entered upon the new life; yet
they are commanded to purge out the old leaven.

14. Now, how shall we explain the fact that he bids them purge out the
old leaven that they may be a new lump, when at the same time he
admits them to be unleavened and a new lump? How can these Corinthians
be as true, unleavened wafers, or sweet dough, when they have yet to
purge out the old leaven?

This is an instance of the Pauline and apostolic way of speaking
concerning Christians and the kingdom of Christ; it shows us what the
condition really is. It is a discipline wherein a new, Christian life
is entered upon through faith in Christ the true Passover; hence,
Easter is celebrated with sweet, unleavened bread. But at the same
time something of the old life remains, which must be swept out, or
purged away. However, this latter is not imputed, because faith and
Christ are there, constantly toiling and striving to thoroughly purge
out whatever uncleanness remains.

15. Through faith we have Christ and his purity perfectly conferred
upon ourselves, and we are thus regarded pure; yet in our own personal
nature we are not immediately made wholly pure, without sin or
weakness. Much of the old leaven still remains, but it will be
forgiven, not be imputed to us, if only we continue in faith and are
occupied with purging out that remaining impurity.

This is Christ's thought when he says to his disciples (Jn 15, 3),
"Already ye are clean because of the word which I have spoken unto
you," and in the same connection he declares that the branches in him
must be purged that they may bring forth more fruit. And to Peter--and
to others--he says (Jn 13, 10), "He that is bathed needeth not save to
wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not
all." These passages, as is also stated elsewhere, teach that a
Christian by faith lays hold upon the purity of Christ, for which
reason he is also regarded pure and begins to make progress in purity;
for faith brings the Holy Spirit, who works in man, enabling him to
withstand and to subdue sin.

16. They are to be censured according to whose representations and
views a Christian Church is to be advocated which should be in all
respects without infirmity and defect, and who teach that, when
perfection is not in evidence, there is no such thing as the Church of
Christ nor as true Christians. Many erring spirits, especially strong
pretenders to wisdom, and precocious, self-made saints, immediately
become impatient at sight of any weakness in Christians who profess
the Gospel faith; for their own dreams are of a Church without any
imperfections, a thing impossible in this earthly life, even they
themselves not being perfect.

17. Such, we must know, is the nature of Christ's office and dominion
in his Church that though he really does instantaneously, through
faith, confer upon us his purity, and by the Spirit transforms our
hearts, yet the work of transformation and purification is not at once
completed. Daily Christ works in us and purges us, to the end that we
grow in purity daily. This work he carries on in us through the agency
of the Word, admonishing, reproving, correcting and strengthening; as
in the case of the Corinthians through the instrumentality of Paul.
Christ also uses crosses and afflictions in effecting this end.

He did not come to toil, to suffer and to die because he expected to
find pure and holy people. Purity and holiness for us he has acquired
in his own person to perfection, inasmuch as he was without sin and
perfectly pure from the moment he became man, and this purity and
holiness he communicates to us in their flawless perfection in so far
our faith clings to him. But to attain personal purity of such
perfection requires a daily effort on the part of Christ, until the
time shall have come that he has wrought in us a flawless perfection
like his own.

So he has given us his Word and his Spirit to aid us in purging out
the remaining old leaven, and in holding to our newly-begun purity
instead of lapsing from it. We must retain the faith, the Spirit and
Christ; and this, as before said, we cannot do if we give place to the
old carnal disposition instead of resisting it.

18. Note, one thing the text teaches: Even the saints have weakness,
uncleanness and sin yet to be purged out, but it is not imputed unto
them because they are in Christ and occupied in purging out the old
leaven.

19. Another thing, it teaches what constitutes the difference between
the saints and the unholy, for both are sinful; it tells the nature of
sins despite the presence of which saints and believers are holy,
retaining grace and the Holy Spirit, and also what sins are
inconsistent with faith and grace.

20. The sins remaining in saints after conversion are various evil
inclinations, lusts and desires natural to man and contrary to the Law
of God. The saints, as well as others, are conscious of these sins,
but with this difference: they do not permit themselves to be overcome
thereby so as to obey the sins, allowing them free course; they do not
yield to, but resist, such sins, and, as Paul expresses it here,
incessantly purge themselves therefrom. The sins of the saints,
according to him, are the very ones which they purge out. Those who
obey their lusts, however, do not do this, but give rein to the flesh,
and sin against the protest of their own consciences.

They who resist their sinful lusts retain faith and a good conscience,
a thing impossible with those who fail to resist sin and thus violate
their conscience and overthrow their faith. If you persist in that
which is evil regardless of the voice of conscience, you cannot say,
nor believe, that you have God's favor. So then, the Christian
necessarily must not yield to sinful lusts.

21. The Holy Spirit is given for the very purpose of opposing sin and
preventing its reign. Paul says (Gal 5, 17): "For the flesh lusteth
against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh ... that ye may
not do the things that ye would." And again (Rom 8, 13): "If by the
Spirit ye put to death the deeds of the body, ye shall live." Also
(Rom 6, 12): "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye
should obey the lusts thereof."

"For our passover also hath been sacrificed, even Christ."

["For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us."]

22. Here Paul assigns his reason for the statement just made--"Ye are
unleavened." They are a new, unleavened or sweet lump, not because of
any merit on their part, not because of their own holiness or
worthiness, but because they have faith in Christ as the Passover
sacrificed for them. This sacrifice makes them pure and holy before
God. They are no more the old leaven they were when out of Christ. By
this sacrifice they are reconciled with God and purified from sin.

23. Likewise for us God institutes a new ordinance, a new festival.
The old has given place to something wholly new. A different and
better Passover sacrifice succeeds that of the Jews. The Jews had
annually to partake of their offered sacrifice, but they were not
thereby made holy nor pure from sin. Theirs was a sign or earnest of
the true Passover to come, the Passover promised by God, in the shed
blood of which we are washed from sin and wholly healed--a Passover
the partaking whereof we must enjoy by faith. We have now one
perpetual and eternal Easter festival, wherein faith is nourished,
satisfied and gladdened; in other words, we receive remission of sins
and comfort and strength through this our Passover, Christ.

24. The meaning of the phrase "sacrificed for us" has been explained
in the sermon on the Passion of Christ. Two thoughts are there
presented: First, necessity of considering the greatness and terror of
the wrath of God against sin in that it could be appeased and a ransom
effected in no other way than through the one sacrifice of the Son of
God. Only his death and the shedding of his blood could make
satisfaction. And we must consider also that we by our sinfulness had
incurred that wrath of God and therefore were responsible for the
offering of the Son of God upon the cross and the shedding of his
blood.

Well may we be terrified because of our sins, for God's wrath cannot
be trivial when we are told no sacrifice save alone the Son of God can
brave such wrath and avail for sin. Do you imagine yourself able to
endure that wrath of God, or to withstand it if you will not consider
this and accept it?

25. The second thought presented in the sermon mentioned is, the
necessity of recognizing the inexpressible love and grace of God
toward us. Only so can the terrified heart of man regain comfort. It
must be made aware why God spared not his own Son but offered him a
sacrifice upon the cross, delivered him to death; namely, that his
wrath might be lifted from us once more. What greater love and
blessing could be shown? The sacrifice of Christ is presented to us to
give us sure comfort against the terrors of sin. For we may perceive
and be confident that we shall not be lost because of our sins when
God makes such a sacrifice the precious pledge to us of his favor and
promised salvation.

Therefore, though your sins are great and deserve the awful wrath of
God, yet the sacrifice represented by the death of the Son of God is
infinitely greater. And in this sacrifice God grants you a sure token
of his grace and the forgiveness of your sins. But that forgiveness
must be apprehended by the faith which holds fast the declaration,
"Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us." By this promise must faith
be comforted and strengthened.

"Wherefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with
the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of
sincerity and truth."

26. Having, then, a Paschal Lamb and a true Easter, let us rightly
value them. Let us observe the festival with the gladness it ought to
inspire. Let us no longer eat the old leaven, but true wafers and
paschal cakes. Where the Paschal Lamb is, there must be the unleavened
bread. The former is Christ sacrificed for us. To this sacrifice we
can add nothing; we can only receive and enjoy it by faith,
recognizing it as a gift to us.

However, possessing the Paschal Lamb, it is incumbent upon us to
partake also of the sweet festal bread; in other words, while
embracing the faith of the Passover, we are to maintain the true
doctrine of the Gospel, illustrating it by the godly example of our
own lives. We should live an eternal Easter life, as it were, to carry
out Paul's analogy, a life wherein we, as justified, sanctified and
purified people, continue in peace and the joy of the Holy Spirit, so
long as we remain on earth.

27. In this verse, as in the preceding one, Paul contrasts the leaven
and the unleavened bread. He makes leaven a general term for
everything which proceeds from flesh and blood and an unrenewed sinful
nature, but classifies it under two heads--the leaven of malice and
the leaven of wickedness. By "malice" we understand the various open
vices and sins which represent manifest wrong to God and our neighbor.
"Wickedness" stands for those numerous evil tricks, those nimble,
subtle, venomous artifices practiced upon Christian doctrine and the
Word of God with intent to corrupt and pervert them, to mislead hearts
from the true meaning thereof. Paul warns (2 Cor 11, 3): "But I fear,
lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve in his craftiness, your
minds should be corrupted from the simplicity and the purity that is
toward Christ." Under "wickedness" comes also such evils as hypocrisy
and other false, deceptive dealing practiced in the name of God by way
of adorning and covering the sin; false teaching and deceptive action
passed off as right, proper and Christian. Such wickedness Christ
terms "the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod." Mk 8, 15.
This sort of leaven, particularly, we have in the world to an
unspeakable extent in this last and worst of times.

28. To the leaven of malice and of wickedness, Paul opposes the leaven
of sincerity and truth. To be sincere is to live and act in an upright
Christian way, prompted by a faithful, godly heart, a heart kindly
disposed to all and meditating wrong and injury to none; and to deal
as you would be dealt with. To be true is to refrain from false and
crafty dealing, from deceit and roguery, and to teach and live in
probity and righteousness according to the pure Word of God. Truth and
sincerity must prevail and be in evidence with Christians, who have
entered upon a relation and life altogether new; they should celebrate
the new Easter festival by bringing faith and doctrine and life into
accord with it.



_Easter Monday_

Text: Acts 10, 34-43.

34 And Peter opened his mouth, and said: Of a truth I perceive that
God is no respecter of persons: 35 but in every nation he that feareth
him, and worketh righteousness, is acceptable to him. 36 The word
which he sent unto the children of Israel, preaching good tidings of
peace by Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all)--37 that saying ye
yourselves know, which was published throughout all Judæa, beginning
from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; 38 even Jesus of
Nazareth, how God anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power:
who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the
devil; for God was with him. 39 And we are witnesses of all things
which he did both in the country of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom
also they slew, hanging him on a tree. 40 Him God raised up the third
day, and gave him to be made manifest, 41 not to all the people, but
unto witnesses that were chosen before of God, even to us, who ate and
drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And he charged us to
preach unto the people, and to testify that this is he who is ordained
of God to be the Judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him bear all
the prophets witness, that through his name every one that believeth
on him shall receive remission of sins.


THE BLESSINGS OF CHRIST'S RESURRECTION.

1. This sermon Peter preached to Cornelius, the Cesarean centurion, a
gentile but a believer, and to the centurion's assembled friends,
Peter having been summoned by Cornelius and having responded to the
call in obedience to a revelation and to the Holy Spirit's command, as
related in the preceding verses of the chapter. It is an excellent
sermon and bears strong testimony to Christ's resurrection. As should
ever be the case with the sermons of apostles and preachers of the
Gospel, it is not only a historical record of Christ's life, death and
resurrection, but portrays the power and blessing thereof. The entire
sermon being easily understood without explanation--for it is itself
an exposition of the article on Christ's resurrection--we will go over
it but briefly.

2. First, Peter begins with the inception of the preaching of the
Gospel of Christ, suggesting how it was promised in the Scriptures,
being declared by the prophets, that Christ should come with a new
doctrine, confirming it by miracles; also that he must suffer and die
and rise from the dead, establishing thus a new kingdom; and how the
promise was fulfilled. For confirmation of his words Peter appeals to
his hearers, reminding them of their own knowledge that such was the
promise of the Scriptures, and that the message has gone forth, not
being uttered secretly, in a corner, but being proclaimed throughout
all Judea; and how John the Baptist had shortly before testified he
was sent as Christ's herald to prepare his way by directing and
leading the people to Christ, etc.


THE GOSPEL A DOCTRINE OF PEACE.

3. Then Peter explains this new Gospel message as the doctrine of
peace, the peace proclamation commanded of God; in other words,
salvation and every good thing. The apostle portrays it as a
comforting message, a Gospel of joy and grace, a message not accusing,
threatening and terrifying with a vision of God's wrath for our sin,
as did Moses with his doctrine of the Law. Peter offers to the
hitherto terrified, God's favor, remission of sins and eternal life.

Similarly, of old did the prophets prophesy of this Gospel, calling it
the message of peace. Peter's language is borrowed from them. For
instance, Zechariah prophesies (ch. 9, 10), "He shall speak peace unto
the nations." And Isaiah (ch. 52, 7), "How beautiful upon the
mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that
publisheth peace!" Paul offers the same thought (Eph 2, 17), "And he
came and preached peace to you that were far off, and peace to them
that were nigh." A delightful message is this in which God recalls his
wrath and, as Paul says (2 Cor 5, 18-20), reconciles us unto himself,
having commanded the Gospel to be preached to the world for that very
purpose, and the office of preaching to be called the ministry of
reconciliation; and God admonishes us to be reconciled unto himself,
to be his friends, that we may from him receive grace and every good
thing.

4. Second: Peter declares what the Gospel message records concerning
Christ: what he has wrought and the nature of his office--how he
preached and worked miracles in the service, and for the relief, of
all men; what thanks and reward his own people accorded him, in that
they nailed him to the cross and put him to death; that nevertheless
Christ was not destroyed by the power of the world nor overcome by
death, but even retained his freedom, showing himself after death and
letting his voice be heard; and that he is now exalted Lord and Judge
over all.


THE ARTICLE OF FAITH ON THE RESURRECTION.

5. Here are comprised in a few words the entire history of the Gospel,
and the articles of the Christian faith; but particularly does Peter
deal with the article of the resurrection, the fact that Christ has,
in his own person, completely overcome death and reigns eternal King
and Lord of life. In proof of the truth of this article, the apostle
adduces the fact of Christ's manifesting himself alive to his
disciples, eating and drinking with them and appointing them special
witnesses to these things as men to whom the doctrine had been proven,
had been established by actual sight of the miracles.

6. Third: Peter states the item of chief importance in the article,
the blessing resulting to us. He explains first why Christ suffered
all these things, and how the Gospel was to be published and received;
Christ's motive in it all was not his advantage but our good. Before
we could know the truth and be blessed, it was necessary that the
message be preached. God commanded the apostles, Peter says, to preach
the Gospel in all the world that all men might know it; and thus the
blessing is brought to men through the public office of the ministry.

7. Fourth: Our obligation concerning the message brought to us, and
what it works in ourselves, is indicated in these concluding words of
Peter's sermon:

"To him bear all the prophets witness, that through his name every one
that believeth on him shall receive remission of sins."

8. This verse constitutes the principal theme of the sermon. It is one
of the greatest in the writings of the apostles. It contains the vital
element of the Gospel message, teaching how we may appropriate its
blessing, how obtain what it offers, namely, by faith; faith lays hold
of what is offered us in the Gospel. The message is preached that we
may receive and retain it. Through the Word the blessing is pronounced
our own--it is offered to, or given, us; but by faith we receive it,
make it our own, permit it to work in us.

9. This power and work in us is called by Peter "remission of sins."
This is the blessing, the possession, conferred through the preaching
of the doctrine of Christ, or the articles of faith, particularly the
articles of the resurrection. The meaning of the new message of
comfort, the new declaration of peace, is that Christ, through his
resurrection, has in himself conquered our sin and death, has turned
away the wrath of God and procured grace and salvation; that he has
commanded forgiveness to be preached unto us, desiring us to believe
he gives it and confidently to receive it through faith.

10. Faith must be of such character as to apprehend and hold fast the
truth Peter declares in this verse. It must say "in his name." That
is, must ascribe to Christ alone the entire agency, merit and power
responsible for remission of sins; must believe we have forgiveness,
not through our own worthiness, but for Christ's sake alone; must
believe that by virtue of Christ's resurrection we obtain remission of
sins, every namable element not from Christ being completely excluded,
and the honor given to him alone.

What does the work, the ability, of all mankind amount to when it
comes to accomplishing or meriting a thing of such magnitude as
remission of sins and redemption from death and eternal wrath? How
will it compare with the death and shed blood of the Son of God, with
the power of his resurrection? How will it divide honors with him in
having merit to secure remission of sin and redemption from death? The
efficacy of Christ's death and blood alone God would have preached in
all the world and accepted by mankind. Therein he rejects the boasting
of the Jews and of all aspirers to holiness through their own works,
teaching them they cannot obtain his favor through the Law, or by
their own efforts. In Christ's name alone is remission of sins
received, and that through faith.

11. Salvation through Christ, according to Peter, was before that time
proclaimed in the Scriptures, being declared by all the prophets. This
is truly strong testimony adduced by the apostle; the Jewish people
certainly ought to believe their own prophets unless they wilfully are
hardened and lost. Much more should we gentiles have faith in Christ's
atonement, being obliged to confess that not in any wise have we done
aught that such grace should be offered and given to us. We certainly
ought to be honest enough to honor Christ to the extent of believing
the apostles, in fact the Scriptures entire. We ought to be ashamed to
doubt or question the fact of forgiveness of sins and justification
before God through Christ alone, to which all Scripture testifies. If
we are honest with ourselves, we must confess it the truth, or secure
forgiveness of sins or be justified before God by our own works.

12. Now we have heard what is the substance, the chief doctrine, of
the Scriptures, the teaching to which all portions lead; namely, to
teach and confirm the article of faith: we have remission of sins for
Christ's sake, through faith. We have heard that such was the faith of
the fathers, the prophets and all saints, from the beginning of the
world, and later was the doctrine preached by Christ himself, and also
the doctrine of the apostles, who were commanded to publish it to the
world. To this day the same doctrine prevails, and it will until the
end be unanimously accepted by the whole Christian Church, with the
exception of our present opponents. The Christian Church has ever, as
a unit, believed, confessed and contended for this article, the
article maintaining that only in the name of the Lord Christ is
remission of sin obtained; and in this faith its members have been
justified before God and saved. Thus by such testimony is the
foundation of our doctrine laid sufficiently firm; that article was
with power contended for, defended and established long before our
time.

13. He who inquires, who would know exactly, what the Christian Church
ever holds and teaches, especially concerning the all-important
article of justification before God, or the forgiveness of sins, over
which there has always been contention, has it here plainly and
exactly in this text. Here is the unwavering testimony of the entire
Church from the beginning. It is not necessary, then, to dispute about
the doctrine any more. No one can name any just reason, or have any
excuse, for doubts on the subject; or reasonably wait for further
determinations of investigating councils.

In this text we see that the reliability of the article of faith has
long ago been proven, even in ancient time, by the Church of the
primitive fathers, of the prophets and the apostles. A solid
foundation is established, one all men are bound to believe and
maintain at the risk of their eternal salvation, whatever councils may
establish, or the world advance and determine, to the contrary.
Indeed, the sentence has been declared to us; we are commanded to shun
every other doctrine that may be believed, taught or ordained. Paul
says (Gal 1, 8): "But though we, or an angel from heaven, should
preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you,
let him be anathema."

14. You see now against what the Papacy with all its adherents
blusters and rages, and how they are to be regarded who refuse to hear
and to tolerate the article Peter here advances and confirms by the
testimony of all the prophets and of the Scriptures entire; who cease
not to persecute godly and innocent ones for their acceptance of this
article of faith, under the pretense of being themselves the Church
and of magnifying its name to the utmost while opposing us, though at
the same time their doctrine, faith and deeds openly testify against
them, proclaiming their belief and teaching to be contrary to the
testimony of all the prophets and of the entire Church.

By no means can they be the Church who so rashly contradict Peter and
the Scriptures, who even trample under foot, in his Word, Christ
himself, the Head. Rather, they must be wicked devils, a miserable
rabble, the worst enemies of the Christian Church; more wicked and
pernicious than heathen or Turks.

15. Lastly: Peter, by way of proving conclusively to the world that
this one Lord, as he names him, Jesus of Nazareth, is the true Messiah
promised of old in the Scriptures, says: "To him bear all the prophets
witness." The prophets plainly speak of such a person, one to be born
of David's flesh and blood, in the city of Bethlehem, who should
suffer, die and rise again, accomplishing just what this Jesus has
accomplished and even proven by miraculous signs. Therefore, truly the
Jews and the non-Christians have no reason to doubt concerning Christ,
no reason to await the coming of another.

16. Further, Peter, citing the testimony of the prophets, indicates
the nature of Christ's kingdom as not external power; not temporal
dominion like that of earthly lords, kings, and emperors; not dominion
over countries or control of people, property and temporal concerns;
but a spiritual, eternal kingdom, a kingdom in the hearts of men, an
authority over, and power opposed to, sin, everlasting death and hell,
a power able to redeem us from those things and bestow upon us
salvation. Salvation is ours, Peter teaches, through the preaching of
the Gospel, and is received by faith. Faith is the obedience every man
must render unto the Lord. By faith he makes himself subject to Christ
and partaker of his grace and blessings. Paul also (Rom 1, 5) uses the
term "unto obedience of faith."



_Easter Tuesday_

Text: Acts 13, 26-39.

26 Brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and those among you
that fear God, to us is the word of this salvation sent forth. 27 For
they that dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him
not, nor the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath,
fulfilled them by condemning him. 28 And though they found no cause of
death in him, yet asked they of Pilate that he should be slain. 29 And
when they had fulfilled all things that were written of him, they took
him down from the tree, and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him
from the dead: 31 and he was seen for many days of them that came up
with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses unto the
people. 32 And we bring you good tidings of the promise made unto the
fathers, 33 that God hath fulfilled the same unto our children, in
that he raised up Jesus; as also it is written in the second psalm,
Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. 34 And as concerning
that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to
corruption, he hath spoken on this wise, I will give you the holy and
sure blessings of David. 35 Because he saith also in another psalm,
Thou wilt not give thy Holy One to see corruption. 36 For David, after
he had in his own generation served the counsel of God, fell asleep,
and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: 37 but he whom God
raised up saw no corruption. 38 Be it known unto you therefore,
brethren, that through this man is proclaimed unto you remission of
sins: 39 and by him every one that believeth is justified from all
things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.


1. This sermon Paul preached in the synagogue at Antioch in Pisidia,
to the assembled Jews and gentiles. Note, he says, "whosoever among
you feareth God." It is a counterpart of the sermon in the preceding
epistle lesson delivered by Peter at Cesarea. Here also the first part
of the sermon is simply a narration of the historical facts of
Christ's resurrection, and designed to prove Christ the true Messiah
promised in the Scriptures. This is sufficiently demonstrated by the
facts in the case that by his own divine power and strength Christ
rescued himself from death and the grave, and rose from the dead and
showed himself alive and talked with men, something no man but Christ
alone had ever done or ever can do. Paul elsewhere (Rom 1, 3-4) says
that this Jesus our Lord was born of the seed of David according to
the flesh, and was declared to be the Son of God with power by the
resurrection from the dead.

2. Not content with a mere narration of the history of the
resurrection, Paul cites Scripture testimony incontestably proving
that Christ necessarily must rise from the dead and set up his
spiritual and eternal kingdom through the Word he commanded the
apostles to publish world-wide. He also discloses the true meaning of
Scripture from revelation itself, showing how to seek and find Christ
therein. The preceding Gospel lesson also spoke of this.

3. Third, as was true of Peter, Paul does not fail to mention what is
of surpassing importance, the use of the historical parts of Scripture
and the blessing and benefit accruing to us from that which Scripture
proclaims and witnesses; also the method of appropriating its power
and blessing. And he concludes with a beautiful utterance of apostolic
power, showing how we are to obtain remission of sins and be saved. He
says: "Through this man is proclaimed unto you remission of sins: and
by him every one that believeth is justified from all things, from
which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." This certainly
is a powerful passage and so plain it needs no comment, no further
explanation. It is a point most firmly established and emphasized
everywhere in Paul's epistles. We should note well and remember such
clear passages, that we may gain strength and assurance as to the
ground of Christian doctrine. Seeing how perfectly, as faithful,
truthful and harmonious witnesses, these two apostles agree in their
preaching, we are justified in confidently drawing the conclusion that
any doctrine at variance with theirs, any teaching concerning the
remission of sins and our salvation contrary to theirs, is not of the
church, but of the devil's accursed teachers, a doctrine of Satan's
own. Gal 1.



_Easter Tuesday_

Second Sermon. Same Text. Acts 13, 26-39.


THE WORD AND THE RESURRECTION.[1]

[Footnote 1: This sermon appeared first in the Church Postil, the
Explanation of the Epistle and Gospel Texts from Easter to Advent.
Printed by Hans Lufft, Wittenberg, 1559.]

1. This sermon was preached by Paul in the synagogue at Antioch of
Pisidia, where were gathered with the Jews some Greek converts.
Wherever in a city Jews were to be found, there also were their
synagogues in which they taught and preached; and many gentiles,
coming to hear, were converted to God through the preaching of his
Word. Undoubtedly it was by God's wonderful direction that the Jews
were dispersed throughout the world among the gentiles, after the
first destruction of Jerusalem by the Assyrians. Inasmuch as this
dispersion resulted in the spread of the Word, they were instrumental
in securing salvation for the gentiles and in preparing the way for
the world-wide preaching of the Gospel by the apostles. For wherever
the apostles went they found Jewish synagogues and the opportunity to
preach to a regular congregation, through whom their Gospel might be
widely disseminated because of the many gentiles also in attendance.
Had not these gentiles been already accustomed to the Jewish
synagogues, they would not have listened to the apostles, nor even
permitted them publicly to preach, strangers that they were.

2. Thus it is Paul comes into the synagogue on the Sabbath, a time
when the congregation was wont to assemble and read the Scriptures. He
and Barnabas being guests from the country of the Jews, Paul is
besought to give an exhortation, or sermon, to the people, whereupon
he rises and delivers a fine, lengthy discourse concerning Christ: how
in the Scriptures he had been promised unto the fathers and to David
the king, had been born of the seed of David and had received the
public testimony of John the Baptist; how Christ was sacrificed by the
Jews (Peter gives the same account in the preceding epistle lesson);
how he rose from the dead and for some time showed himself alive; how
he then commanded his apostles to publish to the world the new
doctrine that God's promise to the Jews had been fulfilled; and how,
by his resurrection, he brought to them the promised blessing, namely,
the remission of sins unattainable through the Law of Moses and all
their ordinances, but dispensed and imparted alone to faith in the
Christ proclaimed.

3. As stated later in the text, there were, beside the Jews, many
gentiles present at the preaching of this sermon, and at its
conclusion they besought Paul to speak to them again between sabbaths.
Accordingly, when he came to the synagogue the next sabbath, he found
almost the whole city assembled.

But to return to the first sermon: Paul says, "Brethren, children of
the stock of Abraham"--or, native Jews--"and those among you that fear
God"--who are gentiles. Now, though this could not but be a discourse
objectionable and highly offensive to the Jews, Paul opens with tender
and nicely chosen words meant to conciliate and to secure their
respectful attention. He highly honors them by addressing them as the
people chosen by God in preference to all the gentiles; as children of
the holy fathers who had a special claim to the promise of God. But,
again, he vitiates his pleasing impression when he proclaims to the
Jews naught else but the crucified and risen Christ, and concludes
with the statement that with nothing but Moses' Law and ordinances
they ranked no higher in the sight of God than the gentiles.


THE WORD OF SALVATION.

4. Paul's discourse is in perfect harmony with Peter's sermon. Peter
speaks of God having sent unto the Jews heralds proclaiming peace; and
Paul here says, "To you [us] is the word of this salvation sent."
Notwithstanding the joy and comfort wherewith these words are fraught,
they could not please the Jews. The Jews disdained the idea--in fact,
it was intolerable to them to hear it expressed--that after their long
expectation of a Messiah to be lord and king of the world, they should
receive a mere message, and at that a message rendering of no
significance at all that Law and government for which they had
expected, through that Messiah, exaltation and world-wide acceptance.
Indeed, such an issue could only mean to them having entertained a
vain hope.

5. Paul makes his teaching yet more offensive by not referring to the
Gospel simply as the word of peace, as Peter does, but by giving it
the greater and grander title, "the word of salvation"; in other
words, a doctrine calculated to heal and save. No grander name could
be found for the Gospel; for a message of salvation is an expression
of God's grace, forgiveness of sins, abiding peace and life eternal.
Moreover, these blessings were not to be bestowed upon the Jews alone;
they were to be equally shared with the gentiles, who had no knowledge
of God, of the Law, or of divine worship. The gentiles were thus to be
made the equals of the Jews, leaving the latter without preference or
special merit before God, and without advantage and lordship over the
former in the world.

6. Thus early in his discourse Paul grows blunt and severe, kneading
Jews and gentiles into one lump. Indeed, he plainly tells the Jews
that the Law of Moses did not secure to them the favor of God in the
past and would be equally profitless in the future; that through the
Gospel message, and only so, they, and all gentiles as well, were to
be delivered from sin, death and the power of the devil, and to become
God's people, with power over all. Yet he presents no other tangible
token of the great boon he calls salvation and blessedness than his
preaching alone.

Now, one may say: "The word I hear, and Paul I see, a poor human
being; but this salvation--grace, life and peace--I behold not. On the
contrary, I daily see and experience sin, terror, adversity, suffering
and death, until it seems as if in all humanity none are so utterly
forsaken by God as the Christians, who hear this message."

7. But this is precisely the precious doctrine to be learned if we are
to be God's children and sensible of his kingdom within us, a doctrine
beyond the knowledge and experience of the Jews with their Law and of
the gentiles with their wisdom drawn from reason--this it is: our
salvation stands in the word Paul here declares of Christ, a word
which, in name and reality, is a word of salvation and peace; for
salvation and peace are the blessings which it offers and imparts.

8. God has sent this word, Paul says. Its origin and conception is not
with man. It is not the edict of the Roman emperor, nor the command of
the high-priest at Jerusalem. It is the Word of the God of heaven. In
it he speaks. He will have the message preached by poor human beings
as a power unto happiness and salvation, both in name and reality.
Such the Law never was. Paul says (Rom 1, 16): "I am not ashamed of
the Gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one
that believeth." And God himself has bound up with it our salvation
when he manifests himself in the voice heard from heaven at Jordan,
saying of Christ, "This is my beloved Son"--who is to be heard.

9. God desires Christ's Word to be heard. Otherwise expressed, his
command is: "Here ye have the Word of peace and salvation. Not
elsewhere may you seek and find these blessings. Cling to this Word if
you desire peace, happiness and salvation. Let befall what may,
crosses, afflictions, discord, death--whether you be beheaded, or fall
victim to pest or stroke, or in whatever manner God may call you
home--in it all, look only upon me, whose Word promises that you shall
not die, what seems death being but a sweet sleep, ay, the entrance
into life eternal." Christ says (Jn 8, 51): "Verily, verily, I say
unto you. If a man keep my Word, he shall never see death."

Note, it is the keeping of the Word on which Christ lays stress.
"Keeping" is holding fast to the promise, feeling and all senses to
the contrary, doubting not the truth of the message heard. For he who
promises is not man; it is the Lord of heaven and earth and all that
in them is, who has to this moment controlled and preserved the same.
One hundred years ago, what were you and I and all men now living but
absolutely nothing? How and from what was creation effected when there
was nothing to start with? "He spake and it was done"--that was
created which before had not existence--declares Psalm 33, 9, quoting
from Genesis 1; "he commanded, and it stood fast."

10. Being the Word of God, the Gospel is an entirely different thing
from man's word, no matter though it be spoken by a mere man or even a
donkey. Therefore, let there be, now or henceforth, discord, terror of
sin; the menace of death and hell, of the grave and corruption: come
upon you what may--only press to your heart this Word that Christ has
sent you a message of salvation--of redemption, of triumph over all
things; and that he commands you to believe it. Then you will perceive
that he, as your God and Creator, will not deceive you. What are
death, the devil and all creatures as a match for Christ?

11. The glory of Christ's message, then, here called by Paul "the word
of salvation," is much greater and higher than would have been the
promise of all the kingdoms, all the riches and splendors of the
world, yes, of both heaven and earth. For what could they benefit if
one possessed not the Word of salvation and eternal life? With all
these, when assailed by sins, or by the distress and danger of death,
one must still say, "Away with all the blessings and joys of the
world, so that I may hear and have altogether the message of salvation
sent by Christ." You must hold fast to it and know that it alone gives
eternal peace and joy; that it must receive your faith in spite of all
apparent contradiction; that you must not be governed by your reason
or your feelings, but must regard that as divine, unchangeable and
eternal truth which God has spoken and commands to be proclaimed. Such
is Paul's exhortation addressed primarily to the Jews to accept this
message as sent by God and as being the bearer of wondrous blessings.

12. Next, he proceeds to remove their chief stumbling-block, the thing
of greatest offense to them. He warns them against the course adopted
by them of Jerusalem, who had the Word of salvation from Christ
himself, who read it in the prophets every day, who should have had no
trouble perceiving that the prophets testified to Christ and that
there was complete harmony between their teaching and that of Christ
and the apostles, yet would not understand. Because Christ came not in
the manner they desired, they condemned the very One whom they read of
in the Scriptures as appearing with this Word of salvation, the time
of whose coming had been pointed out, leaving them to know it had long
since arrived and they had no reason to wait for another. They
understood not the Scriptures because their minds were completely
hardened and dominated by the fixed idea that Christ should reign as a
temporal king. So thoroughly was the whole Jewish nation impressed
with this belief that the very apostles had no other conception of
Christ's kingdom, even after his resurrection. As John says (ch. 12,
16), they did not understand the Scriptures until Christ ascended to
heaven and the Holy Spirit came.

So long as there hangs before one's eyes this curtain--the carnal
fancy of a temporal kingdom for Christ, an earthly government for his
Church--the Scriptures cannot be understood. As Paul says of the Jews
(2 Cor 3, 14), the veil remaineth in the reading of the Scriptures.
But this lack of understanding is inexcusable. That is gross and
wilful blindness which will not receive the instruction and direction
imparted by the apostles. The Jews continue to rave against the
Gospel; they will hear nothing of the Christ, though even after
crucifying him they receive the offer of repentance and remission of
sins at the hands of the apostles.

13. That Paul should make bold to tell the most prominent men and
rulers of the whole Jewish nation--the heads of God's people, pillars
of the Church, as we would say--that not only the common rabble, but
likewise they themselves did not know and understand the Scriptures
committed to them; ay, that, not content with such ignorance and
error, they had themselves become the individuals of whom they read,
the murderers and crucifiers of the Son of God, their Saviour--this
was a matter of grave offense indeed!

Offensive indeed was it to have this accusation brought against them,
a people among whom God had ordained his worship, his temple and
priesthood, and for whom he had instituted a peculiar government,
giving the high-priest power to say, Do so or you will be put to
death. Deut 17, 12. And of them were the glorious and great council of
the seventy-two elders originally ordained through Moses (Ex 18,
25-26), the council called the Sanhedrim. They ruled the entire people
and certainly knew right and wrong according to their law.

Was there not reason here to tear Paul to pieces with red-hot pinchers
as a seditious character, a public blasphemer, speaking not only
against the Jewish government but against the honor of God himself;
daring to accuse all the princes of the nation of being in error, of
knowing nothing of the Scriptures, even of being murderers of the Son
of God? The Pope and his crowd lack the credentials of such glory and
endorsement by God. They have merely reared a system of self-devised
doctrine and idolatry, which they still defend. Hence, whatever
censure and condemnation we heap upon the Pope and his crowd is small
in comparison to the thrust Paul dealt the Jewish leaders.

14. Note, Paul does not stand back for anything. He teaches men
utterly to disregard the hue and cry of the offended Jews that they
were the high-priests, teachers, rulers in a government ordained by
God and commanding the obedience of the people; that teaching
disobedience to them was equivalent to teaching disobedience to
parents and to civil government, yes, to God himself--something in the
nature of the case not to be tolerated. Yet Paul fearlessly does so
teach, as an apostle of God and in fulfilment of God's command. How
much more would Paul oppose our popish deceivers who, without the
authority of God's Word, boast themselves heads of the Church and of
the people of God, at the same time neither teaching nor understanding
the Scriptures, but offering their own drivel as God's commands!

15. But what cause has Paul at heart that he dares so boldly condemn
the judgment of these exalted officials? It is this, according to his
own statement: There is One called Jesus Christ, of whom the prophets,
in fact the entire Scriptures, speak. Him the Jews refuse to know. He
is higher and greater than the high-priests and the rulers, greater
than the temple or the whole city of Jerusalem. And the Jews know his
coming means their passing, and their obedience to him as Lord and
Supreme Ruler. Therefore, they are inexcusable in their rejection of
Christ. Of no avail is their evasion, "God has given us the dominion
and the supreme power, and has commanded obedience to us in equal
degree with obedience to parents."

16. The fact that an individual is a lord or a prince, a father or a
mother, a child or a subject, administers authority or obeys it, will
not excuse him from being baptized and believing in Christ. For Christ
is sole and supreme Lord over all kings, princes and governors. True,
we should be obedient to parents and to civil authority, but not to
the extent of disobeying the Lord, him who has created and subjected
to himself emperors and magistrates equally with the lowliest of men.

But the gentlemen and lords at Jerusalem, like those of our day, were
unwilling to permit obedience to any but themselves. From such
conditions arises the present dispute about ecclesiastical authority.
To go counter to it in obeying God's command--this the ecclesiasts
unjustly call disobedience and sedition. But such must be our course
if we are to be loyal to our Lord and theirs, whom they deny.

17. In the matter of salvation, Caiaphas or Pope, Cæsar or king,
avails naught; none avails but Jesus Christ. "Him," says Paul, "the
rulers of Jerusalem, the Holy City, have killed. Though ye were
ordained by God and given authority, God no longer regards you,
because ye reject Christ. Ye have become great blockheads, blind
leaders, understanding not at all the Scriptures. Yet ye should and
would teach others, just as Moses and the prophets have pointed to
this Christ promised to you and to all the world for salvation and
solace. Persisting in your blindness, ye have brought him to the
cross, though finding in him no cause for condemnation. Surely, he did
you no injury; he deprived you of naught, neither money, goods, honor
nor power, but has brought you all good--even salvation--if ye will
but receive him. But ye made yourselves the very ones who fulfilled
the Scriptures ye daily read--those who put Christ to death and
brought to pass the fact that he rose from the dead (though without
thanks to you or to Satan) and became a Lord commanding the obedience
of all creatures.

"We shall no longer regard what ye, or all the world, have to say of
our preaching Christ; it is all the same to us whether you rage or
smile. For we boast the Lord, the Son of God, made Lord over all the
fathers through his resurrection. It is his will that we preach of
him, and that all men believe. Since ye refuse him, your God-given
privilege ceases, which, however, was granted only until the advent of
the Messiah. We must withdraw from you, renouncing your authority and
priesthood, and Jerusalem itself. We tell you plainly that we cannot
and will not obey you in opposition to the will of the Lord."

18. Mark you, in order to make the Jews Christians, Paul had to preach
that Christ was already come; that he was no longer to be looked for.
He was obliged to bring home to them what they had done to Christ,
they the rulers and chief of those bearing the name of God's people
and entrusted with the Law and the order of divine worship--he was
forced to do so that they might perceive their sin and quit their
boast of having the true Law and worship, having nothing whatever
wherein to glory before God. For, though possessing the Law of Moses
and having heard often enough the Word of God, they would not
recognize and receive the Messiah sent by God in accordance with his
promise, but condemned him and became his murderers.

In view of this fact, what does their boast about being Abraham's
children, God's people, possessors of the prophets and the Law and the
priesthood, amount to? These privileges only magnify their sins, only
make their guilt the more grievous, before God. Not as blind, ignorant
heathen, but as a people who have, and should know, the Word of God,
they wilfully put to death God's Son. Thus we have the first part of
Paul's sermon.


THE RESURRECTION AND FAITH.

19. The second part deals with the resurrection of Christ and its
power through faith. This is the goal Paul has in view when he tells
them that they have slain the Christ, thus effecting their
condemnation by God and forfeiting whatever glory they possessed as
Jews, gaining shame and wrath before God in its stead. To be still
delivered from such condemnation, and to obtain justification and
salvation, as he expresses himself toward the end, it is necessary to
hear and believe the word concerning the selfsame Christ. Moreover,
inasmuch as they with their leaders have refused to receive and
recognize this Messiah when he preached and wrought miracles in
person; now, that he is invisible and absent in the body, they are
called upon to receive him whom they themselves have crucified unto
death, and to believe that he is risen from the dead as Lord over all,
according to the testimony of the apostles.

The dreams of the past they are now utterly to forsake, and their
expectations of a Messiah still to come and elevate them with their
Law and manner of worship to fame, riches and position, and to spread
abroad their Moses and their priesthood in all the earth. They must
now thank God for being placed on the same footing with the gentiles,
in that they may come with them to the Word of salvation for the
purpose of obtaining God's favor, remission of sins and life eternal.


OLD TESTAMENT TESTIMONY.

20. Paul supports his discourse on the resurrection of Christ with
many strong Scripture texts. There is no doubt that he dwelt on these
at length and preached quite a sermon, which, however, has not been
recorded here in full, but only in part. The apostle's purpose was to
point us to the Old Testament Scriptures, that we might there make
diligent study for ourselves of how forcibly the prophets have spoken
concerning Christ, his works and his kingdom.

21. The first text Paul cites is from the Second Psalm, which treats
throughout of the Messiah and his reign, as even the Jews at the time
when wisdom still prevailed had to admit. Christ's own words are: "I
will tell of the decree: Jehovah said unto me, Thou art my Son; this
day have I begotten thee." Paul says he is here quoting from the First
Psalm, though in all editions, old and new, this psalm comes second in
order.[2] But the apostle does not have reference to the technical
arrangement of the psalms in a book, but to the order of his
quotations. The thought is: "First, I will prove it from the psalm,"
or, "First, as written in the psalm." Just as the preacher of today
says, "I observe, first," or, "It is written, first, in the psalm,"
whether the psalm be the first, second, twentieth or thirtieth, he not
having reference to the order of the psalm but to the order in which
he cites it.

[Footnote 2: Since Luther's time this discrepancy has been removed by
allowing the change, "second psalm."]

22. But how does Paul make this text prove the resurrection of Christ?
It is truly a strong statement, and no doubt the apostle fully
explained it, amplifying it beautifully and well. The psalm refers to
that Messiah, or King, who shall reign in the Jewish nation, among the
people; for the writer says plainly, "I have set my king upon my holy
hill of Zion," or Jerusalem. The King, then, must be true man like
other men. Indeed, the psalmist adds that the kings and rulers of
earth shall rage and persecute him, which could not be unless he
reigned upon earth.

23. But this verse also makes the King true God, for here God calls
him his own Son, begotten of himself in his divine, eternal essence
and majesty. He is, then, not an adopted Son, but the true Son of God
by birth. Being man, however, just like others, he must, in accord
with his human nature, die; indeed, he must suffer crucifixion and
death at the hands of the lords of the world. But, again, if he be
also the begotten Son of God and therefore true God, he cannot, even
according to his human nature, remain in death; he must come forth
from it, must triumph over it, becoming Lord of life and death
forever. Here is an indivisible Being, at the same time a Son of the
virgin of the house of David and of God. Such cannot remain in death.
If he enter death, it must be to overcome and conquer it, yes, to slay
it, to destroy it; and to bring to pass that in him as Lord shall
reign naught but life, life for all who receive him. This subject is
elsewhere more fully expounded.

24. But the succeeding text cited on the resurrection--from Isaiah 55,
3--reads yet more strangely: "I will give you the holy and sure
blessings of David," which in the Hebrew is: "I will make an
everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David." The
prophet has reference to the promise made to David in Second Samuel 7,
concerning Christ. In the preceding verses of the chapter, Isaiah most
tenderly entreats and invites the whole world to receive the promises
of salvation, for thereby shall the poor, the wretched and the
afflicted obtain the great treasures of joy and salvation. And
immediately following the verse quoted, he speaks of the Messiah, the
promised seed of David, as given to the Levites for a "witness"--in
other words, a preacher sent by God--and for "a leader and commander
to the peoples." The thought is of a King and Ruler differing from
Moses and his priests and exponents of the Law; a ruler differing from
every other lord, ruler and king, from David and all worldly rulers
whatever, subjecting everything to himself. Not that this Leader
should set up a new temporal government, or extend Jewish authority
among the gentiles, but that both Jews and gentiles should receive him
and believe in him, obtaining the fulfilment of that promise he here
terms a covenant of the sure mercies of David. This covenant, God
says, he enters into and keeps, a divine, sure covenant: through
Christ shall be given whatever blessings God's mercy shall bestow,
with remission or blotting out of sins, redemption from death and life
eternal.

25. Now, if the Christ of this covenant is true man and, as the
promise to David is, of David's flesh and blood; and if he is to bring
eternal mercy, he must likewise be God, such gift being in the
province and power of God alone. This being true, he cannot remain in
death, although he may suffer death by reason of his human nature; he
must of his own power rise from the dead. Only so can he raise others
and give them everlasting life; only so can he truly be called eternal
King of grace, righteousness and life, according to the sure promise
of God.

26. Therefore, wherever the Scriptures speak of Christ's eternal
kingdom, and of everlasting grace, they point out this article of the
resurrection of Christ. No doubt, the apostle in explanation of the
text from the Second Psalm quoted other Old Testament passages; for
instance. Psalm 110, 1: "Jehovah saith unto my lord, Sit thou at my
right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool"; also verse 4:
"Jehovah hath sworn, and will not repent: Thou art a priest for ever."
In these passages God has promised to give us Christ, him who was to
sit at his right hand--that is, have the omnipotent, divine power
possible only to an eternal Lord and King--and at the same time to
have his kingdom on earth, at Zion--or Jerusalem; and who was,
moreover, to be a priest forever, being taken from among men and like
unto them, even in his ability to die, yet at the same time continuing
a priest forever, thereby forestalling the necessity of remaining in
death and grave.

27. The third passage cited by Paul is taken from the Sixteenth Psalm,
which is in reality one of the Messianic psalms. This is the psalm
Peter in his first sermon on the day of Pentecost more fully explains,
drawing from it the irresistible conclusion, so apparent in his own
words, that Christ indeed has died; not, however, to become victim to
decay in the tomb, but, proof against mortal destruction and hurt, to
arise on the third day.



_Easter Wednesday_
ALSO SUITED TO EASTER TUESDAY.

Text: Colossians 3, 1-7.

1 If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that
are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. 2 Set
your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are
upon the earth. 3 For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in
God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested, then shall
ye also with him be manifested in glory. 5 Put to death therefore your
members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, passion,
evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry; 6 for which things'
sake cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience: 7 wherein
ye also once walked, when ye lived in these things.


EXHORTATION TO TRULY GOOD WORKS.

1. We have been hearing of the glorious message of Christ's
resurrection, how that resurrection took place and how we must
believe, for our own blessing, comfort and salvation. Now, that we may
be sincerely thankful to God for this inestimable blessing, and that
our attitude toward the doctrine of the resurrection may be one to
truly honor and glorify it, we must hear also, and practice, the
apostles' teaching of its essential fruits, and must manifest them in
our lives. Therefore, we will select Paul's admonition to the
Colossians (ch. 3), which has to do with this topic particularly.

Observe here, Paul exhorts Christians to be incited by the
resurrection of Christ unto works truly good and becoming; the text
declares unto us the supreme blessing and happiness the resurrection
brings within our reach--remission of sins and salvation from eternal
death. Lest, however, our wanton, indolent nature deceive itself by
imagining the work is instantaneously wrought in ourselves, and that
simply to receive the message is to exhaust the blessing, Paul always
adds the injunction to examine our hearts to ascertain whether we
rightly apprehend the resurrection truth.


HOW WE ARE RISEN WITH CHRIST.

2. By no means are we simply to assent to the words of the doctrine.
Christ does not design that we be able merely to accept and speak
intelligently of it, but that its influence be manifest in our lives.
How is a dead man profited, however much life may be preached to him,
if that preaching does not make him live? Or of what use is it to
preach righteousness to a sinner if he remain in sin? or to an erring,
factious individual if he forsake not his error and his darkness? Even
so, it is not only useless but detrimental, even pernicious in effect,
to listen to the glorious, comforting and saving doctrine of the
resurrection if the heart has no experience of its truth; if it means
naught but a sound in the ears, a transitory word upon the tongue,
with no more effect upon the hearer than as if he had never heard.

According to Paul in the text, this nobly-wrought and precious
resurrection of Christ essentially must be, not an idle tale of fancy,
futile as a dead hewn-stone or painted-paper image, but a powerful
energy working in us a resurrection through faith--an experience he
calls being risen with Christ; in other words, it is dying unto sin,
being snatched from the power of death and hell and having life and
happiness in Christ. In the second chapter (verse 12), the apostle
puts it plainly, "buried with him in baptism, wherein ye were also
raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him
from the dead."

3. If, Paul says, ye have apprehended by faith the resurrection of
Christ and have received its power and consolation, and so are risen
with him, that resurrection will surely be manifest in you; you will
feel its power, will be conscious of its working within. The doctrine
will be something more than words; it will be truth and life. For them
who do not thus apprehend the resurrection, Christ is not yet risen,
although his rising is none the less a fact; for there is not within
them the power represented by the words "being risen with Christ," the
power which renders them truly dead and truly risen men.

So Paul's intent is to make us aware that before we can become
Christians, this power must operate within us; otherwise, though we
may boast and fancy ourselves believing Christians, it will not be
true. The test is, are we risen in Christ--is his resurrection
effective in us? Is it merely a doctrine of words, or one of life and
operating power?

4. Now, what is the process of the life and death mentioned? How can
we be dead and at the same time risen? If we are Christians we must
have suffered death; yet the very fact that we are Christians implies
that we live. How is this paradox to be explained? Indeed, certain
false teachers of the apostles' time understood and explained the
words in a narrow sense making them mean that the resurrection of the
dead is a thing of the past according to Paul's words in Second
Timothy 1, 10, and that there is no future resurrection from temporal
death. The believer in Christ, they said, is already risen to life; in
all Christians the resurrection is accomplished in this earthly life.
They sought to prove their position by Paul's own words, thus
assailing the article of the resurrection.

5. But we will ignore these teachers as being condemned by Paul, and
interpret the words as he meant them, his remarks both preceding and
following making it clear and unquestionable that he refers to the
spiritual resurrection. This fact is certain: If we are, at the last
day, to rise bodily, in our flesh and blood, to eternal life, we must
have had a previous spiritual resurrection here on earth. Paul's words
in Romans 8, 11 are: "But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus
from the dead dwelleth in you, he that raised up Christ Jesus from the
dead shall give life also to your mortal bodies through his Spirit
that dwelleth in you." In other words: God having quickened, justified
and saved you spiritually, he will not forget the body, the building
or tabernacle of the living spirit; the spirit being in this life
risen from sin and death, the tabernacle, or the corruptible
flesh-and-blood garment, must also be raised; it must emerge from the
dust of earth, since it is the dwelling-place of the saved and risen
spirit, that the two may be reunited unto life eternal.

6. The apostle, then, is not in this text referring to the future
resurrection of the body, but to the spiritual rising which entails
the former. He regards as one fact the resurrection of the Lord
Christ, who brought his body again from the grave and entered into
life eternal, and the resurrection of ourselves, who, by virtue of his
rising, shall likewise be raised: first, the soul, from a trivial and
guilty life shall rise into a true, divine and happy existence; and
second, from this sinful and mortal body shall rise out of the grave
an immortal, glorious one.

So Paul terms believing Christians both "dead" and "alive." They are
spiritually dead in this life and also spiritually alive.
Nevertheless, this sinful temporal life must yet come to an end in
physical death, for the destruction of the sin and death inherent
therein, that body and spirit may live forever. Therefore he says:

"If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are
above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God."

7. In other words: Seek and strive after what is above--the things
divine, heavenly and eternal; not the terrestrial, perishable,
worldly. Make manifest the fact that you are now spiritually raised
and by the same power will later be raised bodily.

8. But does this mean that we, as Christians, are no more to eat and
drink, to till the ground, to attend to domestic or public duties, or
to engage in any kind of labor? Are we to live utterly idle,
practically dead? Is that what you mean, Paul, when you say we are not
to seek the things of earth, though all these are essentially incident
to life? What can you say to the fact that Christ the Lord is,
himself, with us on earth? for he said before his ascension to heaven
(Mt 28, 20): "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the
world"; and also the baptism which he commands, the sacrament and the
office of Gospel ministry whereby he governs his Church here--these
are things of earth.

9. Paul, however, explains in the succeeding verse what he means by
"things that are upon the earth" and "things that are above." He is
not telling us to despise earthly objects. He does not refer to God's
created things, all which are good, as God himself considered them;
nor has he reference to the Christian who, in his earthly life, must
deal with the things of creation. He has in mind the individual
without knowledge of God; who knows no more, and aims no further, than
reason teaches, that reason received from parents at physical birth;
who is an unbeliever, ignorant of God and the future life and caring
not for them; who follows only natural understanding and human desire
and seeks merely personal benefit, honor, pride and pleasure. The
apostle calls that a worldly life where the Word of God is lacking, or
at least is disregarded, and where the devil has rule, impelling to
all vices.

Paul would say: Ye must be dead to a worldly life of this sort, a life
striven after by the heathen, who disregard God's Word and suffer the
devil to have his way with them. Ye must prove the resurrection of
Christ in you to be something more than vain words. Ye must show there
is a living power manifest in you because ye are risen, a power which
makes you lead a different life, one in obedience to the Word and will
of God, and called the divine, heavenly life. Where this change does
not take place, it is a sign ye are not yet Christians but are
deceiving yourselves with vain fancies.

10. Under the phrase "things that are upon the earth"--worldly
things--Paul includes not only gross, outward vices, sins censurable
in the eyes of the world, but also greater immoralities; everything,
in fact, not in accordance with the pure Word of God, faith and true
Christian character.


SPIRITUAL AND CARNAL WORLDLINESS.

11. In order to a better understanding of the text, we shall adopt
Paul's customary classification of life as spiritual and carnal. Life
on earth is characterized as of the spirit, or spiritual; and of the
flesh, or carnal. But the spiritual life may be worldly. The worldly
spiritual life is represented by the vices of false and self-devised
doctrine wherein the soul lives without the Word of God, in unbelief
and in contempt of God; or, still worse, abuses the Word of God and
the name of Christ in false doctrine, making them a cover and ornament
for wicked fraud, using them falsely under a show of truth, under
pretense of Christian love.

This is worldly conduct of the spiritual kind. It is always the worst,
ever the most injurious, since it is not only personal sin, but
deceives others into like transgression. Paul refers, in the epistle
lesson for Easter, to this evil as the "old leaven" and the "leaven of
wickedness." And in Second Corinthians 7, 1, he makes the same
classification of spiritual and carnal sin, saying, "Let us cleanse
ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit." By defilement of
the spirit he means those secret, subtle vices wherewith man pollutes
and corrupts his inner life in the sight of God; his sins not being
manifest to the world, but deceiving human reason and wisdom.

12. If we would be Christians we must, first of all, be dead to
conduct of this sort. We must not receive nor tolerate the worldly
doctrine and corrupt inventions originating with ourselves, whether in
the nature of reason, philosophy or law, theories ignoring the Word of
God or else falsely passing under its name. For such are wholly of the
world; under their influence man has no regard to God's will and seeks
not his kingdom and eternal life. They are meant merely to further the
individual's own honor, pride, renown, wisdom, holiness or something
else. Though boast is made of the Gospel and of faith in Christ, yet
it is not serious, and the individual continues without power and
without fruit.

13. If we are risen with Christ through faith, we must set our
affections upon things not earthly, corruptible, perishable, but upon
things above--the heavenly, divine, eternal; in other words, upon
doctrine right, pure and true, and whatever is pleasing to God, that
his honor and Christ's kingdom may be preserved. Thus shall we guard
ourselves against abuse of God's name, against false worship and false
trust and that presumption of self-holiness which pollutes and
defrauds the spirit.

14. Under carnal worldliness Paul includes the gross vices,
enumerating in particular here, fornication, uncleanness,
covetousness, and so on, things which reason knows to be wicked and
condemns as such. The spiritual sins take reason captive and deceive
it, leaving it powerless to guard against them. They are termed
spiritual sins not simply because of their spirit-polluting character,
for all vices pollute the spirit, the carnal vices among them; but
because they are too subtle for flesh and blood to discern. The sins
of the flesh, however, are called carnal, or body-polluting, because
committed by the body, in its members.

Now, as we are to be dead unto spiritual sins, so are we to be dead
unto carnal sins, or at least to make continual progress toward that
end, striving ever to turn away from all such earthly things and to
look toward the heavenly and divine. He who continues to seek carnal
things and to be occupied with them, has not as yet with Christ died
unto the world. Not having died, he is not risen; the resurrection of
Christ effects nothing in him. Christ is dead unto him and he unto
Christ.

15. Paul's admonition is particularly necessary at the present time.
We see a large and constantly-increasing number who, despite their
boast of the Gospel and their certain knowledge of the polluting and
condemning power of spiritual and carnal sins, continue in their evil
course, forgetful of God's wrath, or endeavoring to trust in false
security. Indeed, it is a very common thing for men to do just as they
please and yet pretend innocence and seek to avoid censure. Some would
represent themselves guileless as lambs and blameless; no act of
theirs may be regarded evil or even wrong. They pretend great virtue
and Christian love. Yet they carry on their insidious, malicious
frauds, imposing falsehoods upon men. They ingeniously contrive to
make their conduct appear good, imagining that to pass as faultless
before men and to escape public censure means to deceive God also. But
they will learn how God looks upon the matter. Paul tells us (Gal 6,
7) God will not, like men, be mocked. To conceal and palliate will not
avail. Nothing will answer but dying to vice and then striving after
what is virtuous, divine and becoming the Christian character.

16. Paul enumerates some gross and unpardonable vices--fornication, or
unchastity, and covetousness. He speaks also of these in Ephesians 5,
3-5 and in First Thessalonians 4, 3-7, as we have heard in the epistle
lessons for the second and third Sundays in Lent. He enjoins
Christians to guard against these sins, to be utterly dead to them.
For they are sensual, acknowledged such even among the gentiles; while
we strive after the perfect purity becoming souls who belong to Christ
and in heaven. It is incumbent upon the Christian to preserve his body
modest, and holy or chaste; to refrain from polluting himself by
fornication and other unchastity, after the manner of the world.

17. Similarly does the apostle forbid covetousness, to which he gives
the infamous name of idolatry in the effort to make it more hideous in
the Christian's eyes, to induce him to shun it as an abominable vice
intensely hated of God. It is a vice calculated to turn a man wholly
from faith and from divine worship, until he regards not, nor seeks
after, God and his Word and heavenly treasures, but follows only after
the treasures of earth and seeks a god that will give him enough of
earthly good.

18. Much might be said on this topic were we to consider it relative
to all orders and trades in succession. For plainly the world,
particularly in our day, is completely submerged in the vice of
covetousness. It is impossible to enumerate the subtle arts it can
invent, and the good and beautiful things it knows how to pass off
whereunder it masks itself as a thing not to be considered sinful, but
rather extremely virtuous and indicative of uprightness. And so
idolatry ever does. While before God it is the worst abomination,
before the world its appearance and reputation are superior. So far
from being recognized as sin, it is considered supreme holiness and
divine worship.

The very worship of Mammon wears an imposing mask. It must not be
called covetousness or dishonest striving after property, but must be
known as upright, legitimate endeavor to obtain a livelihood, a
seeking to acquire property honestly. It ingeniously clothes itself
with the Word of God, saying God commands man to seek his bread by
labor, by his own exertions, and that every man is bound to provide
for his own household. No civil government, no, nor a preacher even,
can censure covetousness under that guise unless it be betrayed in
gross robbing and stealing.

19. Let every man know that his covetousness will be laid to the
charge of his own conscience, that he will have to answer for it, for
God will not be deceived. It is evident the vice is gaining ground.
With its false appearance and ostentation, and its world-wide
prevalence, it is commonly accepted as legal. Without censure or
restraint, men are engrossed in coveting and accumulating to the
utmost. Those having position and power think they have the right to
acquire by violence as much as they can, daily making assessments and
imposts, and new oppressions and impositions upon the poor. And the
common rabble seek gain by raising prices, by extortion, fraud, and so
on. Yet all desire not to be charged with wrong-doing; they would not
they should be called unchristian on account of their conduct. Indeed,
such excess of covetousness obtains that the public robbing and
stealing, and the faithlessness and fraud, of the meanest hirelings,
servants and maids everywhere can no longer be restrained.

20. But who would care to recount the full extent of this vice in all
dealings and interests of the world between man and man? Enough has
been said to induce every one who aims to be a Christian to examine
his own heart and, if he find himself guilty of such vice, to refrain;
if not, to know how to guard against it. Every individual can readily
perceive for himself what is consistent with Christian character in
this respect, what can be allowed with a good conscience; for he has
Christ's rule of dealing as we would be dealt with, which insures
equality and justice. Where unfairness exists, covetousness must
obtain to some extent.

21. If you will not desist from the vice of covetousness, then know
you are not a Christian, not a believer, but, as Paul calls you, a
base, detestable idolater, having no part in God's kingdom; for you
are living wholly to the world and without intent to rise with Christ.
You will receive no blessing from the joy-inspiring and gracious
revelation that Christ died and rose for sinners. You cannot say,
"Therefore he died for me, I trust." Truly, Christ died for you, but
if you continue in your wickedness, using this revelation as a cloak
for your mean covetousness, do not--such is the declaration of the
text--by any means apply that comforting promise to yourself. Although
Christ indeed died and rose for all, yet unto you he is not risen; you
have not apprehended his resurrection by faith. You have seen the
smoke but have not felt the fire; you have heard the words but have
received nothing of their power.


THE NEW LIFE IN CHRIST.

22. If you would be able honestly to boast of this revelation as unto
you, if you would have the comfort of knowing that Christ, through his
death and resurrection, has blessed you, you must not continue in your
old sinful life, but put on a new character. For Christ died and rose
for the very purpose of effecting your eventual death with him and
your participation in his resurrection: in other words, he died that
you might be made a new man, beginning even now, a man like unto
himself in heaven, a man having no covetous desire or ambition for
advantage over a neighbor, a man satisfied with what God grants him as
the result of his labor, and kind and beneficent to the needy.

23. In his desire to arouse Christians to the necessity of guarding
against such vices as he mentions, Paul strengthens his admonition, in
conclusion, by grave threats and visions of divine wrath, saying, "for
which things' sake cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of
disobedience"; that is, upon the unbelieving world, which regards not
the Word of God, does not fear or believe in it nor strive to obey it,
and yet is unwilling to be charged with idolatry and other unchristian
principles, desiring rather to be considered righteous and God's own
people.

In the last quoted clause Paul also implies that worldly conduct, the
life of worldly lusts such as covetousness and other vices, is
inconsistent and impossible with faith, and that the power of Christ's
resurrection cannot reach it. For this reason he terms them "sons of
disobedience," who have not faith and who, by their unchristian
conduct, bring God's wrath upon themselves and are cast out from the
kingdom of God. God seriously passes sentence against such conduct,
declaring he will reveal his wrath against it in bodily punishment in
this world and eternal punishment in the world hereafter. Elsewhere
Paul says practically the same thing (Eph 5, 6): "For because of these
things cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience." See
also Rom 1, 18.

24. Such is the admonition of Paul unto all who would be called
Christians. He reminds them whereunto the Gospel of Christ calls them
and what his resurrection should work in them--death to all life and
doctrine not in harmony with God's Word and God's will--and that if
they believe in the risen and living Christ, they, as risen with him,
should seek after the same heavenly life where he sits at the right
hand of God, a life where is no sin nor worldly error, but eternal
life and imperishable treasures to be possessed and enjoyed with
Christ forever.

25. But the revelation of Christ's resurrection can be apprehended by
nothing but faith. The things Paul here tells us of life and glory for
Christians in the risen Christ are not apparent to the world; in fact,
Christians themselves do not perceive them by external sense. Notice,
he says, "Ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God." The world
does not understand the Christian life and has no word of praise for
it; it is hostile to the faith and cannot tolerate the fact that you
believe in Christ and refuse to join hands with it in love for worldly
lusts. A hidden life indeed is the Christian's; not only hidden to the
world, but, so far as external perception goes, to the Christian
himself. Nevertheless, it is a life sure and in safe keeping, and in
the hereafter its glory shall be manifest to all the world. For Paul
says:

"When Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested, then shall ye also
with him be manifested in glory."

26. Here is comfort for Christians in this earthly life where, though
they receive the doctrine of Christ and apprehend him by faith, their
resurrection seems to the world and to their own perceptions untrue;
where they must contend with sin and infirmities and moreover are
subject to much affliction and adversity; and where consequently they
are extremely sensible of death and terror when they would experience
joy and life. In this verse Paul comforts them, showing them where to
seek and surely apprehend their life.

27. Be of good cheer, he would say, for ye are dead to the worldly
life. This life ye must renounce, but in so doing ye make a precious
exchange. Dying unto the world is a blessed experience, for which ye
will obtain a life far more glorious. Ye are now, through Christ's
death, redeemed from sin and from death eternal and are made
imperishable. Upon you is conferred everlasting glory. But this risen
life ye cannot yet perceive in yourselves; ye have it in Christ,
through faith.

Christ is spoken of as "our life." Though the life is still unrevealed
to you, it is certain, insured to you beyond the power of any to
deprive you of it. By faith in Christ's life, then, are ye to be
preserved and to obtain victory over the terrors and torments of sin,
death and the devil, until that life shall be revealed in you and made
manifest to men.

In Christ ye surely possess eternal life. Nothing is lacking to a
perfect realization except that the veil whereby it is hidden so long
as we are in mortal flesh and blood, is yet to be removed. Then will
eternal life be revealed. Then all worldly, terrestrial things, all
sin and death, will be abolished. In every Christian shall be manifest
only glory. Christians, then, believing in Christ, and knowing him
risen, should comfort themselves with the expectation of living with
him in eternal glory; the inevitable condition is that they have
first, in the world, died with him.

28. Paul does not forget to recognize the earthly environment of
Christians and saints, for he says: "Put to death therefore your
members which are upon the earth." Though acknowledging Christians
dead with Christ unto worldly things and possessing life in Christ, he
yet tells them to mortify their members on earth, and enumerates the
sins of fornication, covetousness, etc.

This is truly a strange idea, that it should be necessary for men who
have died and risen with Christ and hence have been made really holy,
to mortify worldly inclinations in their bodily members. The apostle
refers to this subject in Romans 7: 5, 8, 23, and elsewhere,
frequently explaining how, in the saints, there continue to remain
various lusts of original sin, which constantly rise in the effort to
break out, even gross external vices. These have to be resisted. They
are strong enough utterly to enslave a man, to subject him to the
deepest guilt, as Paul complains (Rom 7, 23); and they will surely do
it unless the individual, by faith and the aid of the Holy Spirit,
oppose and conquer them.

29. Therefore, saints must, by a vigorous and unceasing warfare,
subdue their sinful lusts if they would not lose God's grace and their
faith. Paul says in Romans 8, 13: "If ye live after the flesh, ye must
die; but if by the Spirit ye put to death the deeds of the body, ye
shall live." In order, then, to retain the Spirit and the incipient
divine life, the Christian must contend against himself.

This cannot be accomplished by the monastic hypocrisies wherewith some
expect to resist sin. For the pollution of sin is not merely something
adhering to the clothing, or to the skin externally, and easily washed
off. It is not something to be discharged from the body by fasting and
castigation. No, it penetrates the flesh and blood and is diffused
through the whole man. Positive mortification is necessary or it will
destroy one. And this is how to mortify sin: It must be perceived with
serious displeasure and repented of; and through faith Christ's
forgiveness must be sought and found. Thus shall sinful inclinations
be resisted, defeated and restrained from triumphing over you. More
has been said on this topic elsewhere.



_Sunday After Easter_

Text: First John 5, 4-12.

4 For whatsoever is begotten of God overcometh the world: and this is
the victory that hath overcome the world, even our faith. 5 And who is
he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the
Son of God? 6 This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus
Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the
blood. 7 And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit
is the truth. 8 For there are three who bear witness, the Spirit, and
the water, and the blood: and the three agree in one. 9 If we receive
the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for the witness of
God is this, that he hath borne witness concerning his Son. 10 He that
believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in him: he that believeth
not God hath made him a liar; because he hath not believed in the
witness that God hath borne concerning his Son. 11 And the witness is
this, that God gave unto us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
12 He that hath the Son hath the life; he that hath not the Son of God
hath not the life.


VICTORIOUS FAITH.

1. This epistle selection was primarily arranged for this particular
Sunday because it treats of baptism and of the new birth of the
believing Christian. It was in former time customary in the Church to
baptize immediately after Easter those who had accepted the Christian
faith and had been instructed in its precepts. This day is also called
"Dominicam in albis," and by us Germans "Weiszer Sonntag" (White
Sunday), because the candidates for baptism were clad in white linen
as indicative of their cleansing and new birth; just as today children
to be baptized are arrayed in a white christening-robe.


THE NEW BIRTH.

2. While this lesson does not treat of the resurrection of Christ, it
has reference to its fruits: faith, the very essence of Christianity,
here expressed as being born of God; and the evidence of the Holy
Spirit, received through baptism, which assures us we are children of
God and have, through Christ, eternal life and all blessings.

3. Though John's language is, as usual, plain and simple, yet, in the
ears of men generally, it is unusual and unintelligible. The world
estimates it as similar to the prattle of children or fools. What,
according to the world's construction, is implied by the statement,
"Whatsoever is begotten [born] of God overcometh the world?"
Overcoming the world, the unconverted would understand to mean
bringing into subjection to oneself every earthly thing and assuming
the position of sovereign of the world. Yet more absurd in the ears of
this class is the saying that we must be born of God. "Did one ever
hear of such a thing," they might exclaim, "as children born of God?
It would be less ridiculous to say we must be born of stones, after
the idea of the heathen poets." To the world there is no birth but
physical birth. Hence such doctrine as our lesson sets forth will ever
be strange, unintelligible, incomprehensible, to all but Christians.
But the latter speak with new tongues, as Christ in the last chapter
of Mark (verse 17) says they shall, for they are taught and
enlightened by the Holy Spirit.

4. Clearly, then, when the Scriptures speak of being born of God, it
is not in a human sense; the reference is not to the conditions of our
temporal lives, but to those exalted ones of a future existence. To
say we must be born of God is equivalent to saying that if man is to
be redeemed from sin and eternal death, to enter into the kingdom of
God and into happiness, his physical birth will not suffice; all which
nature, reason, free-will and human endeavor may afford is inadequate.
Physical birth, it is true, answers for everything in the way of
temporal possession and achievement, everything great, powerful,
noble, rich, wise, learned; in short, every exalted and desirable
thing of earth. But all such possession and achievement serves only
the physical existence; it is swept away by death, to which event it
is ever subject.

Hence becomes necessary a new and different birth, a birth more
significant than that of the natural man even in the case of emperors,
kings, or the wisest and most influential of earth. For as Isaiah says
(ch. 40, 6): "All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as
the flower of the field. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth." The
demand is for a divine birth, a birth in which parentage is wholly of
God; a birth signifying the operation of God's divine power in man, a
power achieving something beyond the attainment of his natural
capacities and effecting in him new understanding and a new heart.

5. The process is this: When the individual hears the Gospel message
of Christ--a message revealed and proclaimed not by the wisdom and
will of man, but through the Holy Spirit--and sincerely believes it,
he is justly recognized as conceived and born of God. John in his
gospel (ch. 1, 12) says: "As many as received him, to them gave he the
right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his
name." And in the first verse of the chapter including our text, he
tells us: "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is begotten of
God." Through that faith, for the sake of his Son, God accepts us as
his children, pleasing to him and heirs of eternal life; and the Holy
Spirit will be sent into our hearts, as is explained later.

6. This doctrine condemns those arrogant teachers who presumptuously
expect to be justified before God by their own merits and works. They
imagine that their wisdom, learning, good judgment, intelligence, fair
reputation and morality entitle them, because of the good they are
thus enabled to do, to the favor of God and to reception up into
heaven. But the Scriptures clearly teach the very reverse, that all
these things are nothing in the eyes of God. It is sheer human effort;
it is not being born of God. However wise and powerful you might be,
if even the noblest, most beautiful, fruit human nature can produce,
you could not see the kingdom of God unless you became a wholly
different person, unless you were born anew, according to Christ's
words in John 3, 3. And this is something impossible to your natural
powers. You certainly cannot make yourself of other parentage than you
are. God must begin the work in you, communicating his seed--his
Word--by virtue of which the Holy Spirit operates in you, enabling
you, by faith, to cling to the promise, as said before.

7. Now, he who is thus born of God, John declares, overcomes the
world. Verily, this is a significant and forcible assertion the Holy
Spirit makes; it represents a tremendous power, a great work. The
child of God must, indeed, attempt and accomplish great things. The
birth effected through the Word and faith makes men true sovereigns,
above all earthly rulers; it gives them power even to overcome the
world, something impossible to any Roman or Turkish potentate. They
effect not their victory by physical force or temporal power, but by
the spiritual birth, through faith. As John says immediately after the
clause we are discussing, "This is the victory that hath overcome the
world, even our faith." Here is his own explanation of what he means
by being born of God.


THE TWO KINGDOMS.

8. Now, in order to understand the nature of the spiritual victory and
how it is effected, we must know just what John means by the term
"world." The reference is not to dominion over territory, to property
or money. He implies the existence of two kingdoms. In one, the
kingdom of God, the heavenly kingdom of Christ, is included, first,
the angels in heaven, who are the chief lords, the inner circle of
counselors; second, the entire Christian Church on earth, under one
head, Christ the Lord and King. In the other kingdom, the hellish
kingdom, the devil is prince, and his mighty counselors and servants
are the angels who with him fell from heaven; it also includes the
world, those on earth who teach, believe and live contrary to Christ,
who represent the heathen, the Jews, the Turks and false Christians.

By the heavenly kingdom of God we must understand, not only spiritual
life and godly people, but the lord and regent of that kingdom--Christ
with his angels, and his saints both living and dead. Thus, too, the
kingdom of the world represents not only the earthly life with its
worldly interests, but particularly its lord and regent--the devil and
his angels, and all unchristian, godless, wicked people on earth. So,
when John says, "Whatsoever is begotten of God overcometh the world,"
he means by "world" the devil and his whole earthly dominion.

9. Now, the workings of these two kingdoms are plainly evident, though
the leaders--Christ the Lord, and the devil--are not visible to mortal
eyes. Christ rules direct and effectually, in his own power, through
the Word and through the Holy Spirit in the hearts of believers,
maintaining them in the faith and in the knowledge of his Word, and
protecting from the devil's wrath and subtlety; further, he rules
through his angels, who guard his followers; again, he rules through
his people themselves, who exercise authority one over another in
loving service, each teaching, instructing, comforting and admonishing
a noble little band of godly, obedient, patient, chaste, kind,
tractable, benevolent souls.

The nature of the devil's kingdom, the manner of life the world leads,
is easily apparent. This kingdom is simply a huge booth filled with
faithless, shameless, wicked individuals, impelled by their god to
every sort of disobedience, ingratitude and contempt of God and his
Word; to idolatry, false doctrine, persecution of Christians and the
practice of all wantonness, mischief, wickedness and vice.

10. These two kingdoms are opposed. They continually contend for the
crown; they war with each other for supremacy. Christians are brought
into the conflict to hold the field against God's enemy, whose rule of
the world is one of falsehood and murder; they must contend with the
enemy's servants, his horde of factious spirits and basely wicked
individuals, in an effort to restrain evil and promote good.
Christians must be equipped for the fray; they must know how to meet
and successfully resist the enemy, how to carry the field unto
victory, and hold it.


FAITH THE VICTOR.

11. Therefore, when John says, "Whatsoever is begotten of God
overcometh the world: and this is the victory that hath overcome the
world, even our faith," his purpose is to admonish Christians that
believers must manifest the power and working of faith in life and
deed. In fact, his chief aim in writing this text was to reprove false
Christians who are pleased to hear the doctrine that we are saved
through Christ alone, our works and merits not earning our salvation;
and who imagine the hearing of this doctrine constitutes them
Christians and that there is no necessity for any effort or contention
on their part. They forget that they must, through faith, become new
persons fitted to overcome the world and the devil.

12. Victory over the devil is the sign of the true Christian. Thereby
we may know men are born of God, may distinguish them from the false
children who enjoy but the semblance of God's Word and never
experience its power. Such are mere "mondkinder"
(moon-children)--still-born, destitute of real divine life, or divine
power. It cannot be said we have been born of God when we continue in
our old dead and worldly course, and as before lie and live in sin at
the devil's pleasure. No, as children of God we must resist the devil
and his entire kingdom. If, then, instead of overcoming the world you
allow it to overcome you, then, boast as you may of faith and Christ,
your own conduct testifies that you are not a child of God.

To illustrate, beginning with some of the lower and grosser sins: If
you boast of being a child of God, but still live in fornication,
adultery, and such vices, the devil has already overcome you and
wrested you from the kingdom of God. If you are miserly, injuring your
neighbor by usury, by overcharging, by false wares and fraudulent
business, you have permitted the world and your own flesh to overcome
you for a penny. If you entertain envy and hatred toward your
neighbor, you are at once thereby a captive servant of the devil. The
same principle holds in the case of sins more subtle and refined,
where the malicious knavery of the devil must be resisted. For
instance, the devil deceives with misleading doctrines, impelling men
to idolatry, false faith, presumption, despair, blasphemy, and so on.
Now, if you yield to him, suffering yourself to be seduced, what will
it profit you to boast of the Gospel faith? for you have not properly
grasped God's Word, you have not rightly recognized God in Christ, but
continue in error, in false fancies, captivated and deceived by the
devil.

13. It requires something more than mere human wisdom and skill, more
than human power, to withstand and overcome an enemy so formidable as
the devil. As said before, the Christian must be fortified with the
knowledge of how to guard against his wiles and deceptions and how to
withstand him. Hence a Christian is called a person who is born of
God. He must be different from an intelligent heathen and a skillful
worldling to rightly understand God's Word and apprehend Christ
through faith, and must use such knowledge as weapons of offense and
defense in the conflict. Thus will he be able to withstand the devil
and the world and to gain the victory. God's Word and faith are the
power which will bring him through; he cannot be overcome so long as
he adheres to them.

In this connection are John's words immediately preceding our text:
"This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments; and his
commandments are not grievous." Then he goes on, "For whatsoever is
begotten of God overcometh the world," etc. Such is the power
represented by genuine new birth, that therein the devil, the world
and all evil are overcome. Just as, in physical birth, a normal child
fully born into the world may overcome a slight offensive disease,
while an abnormal or still-born child perishes of its own weakness.

14. For example, if I have faith and am born of God, I will not
pollute myself with unchastity and fornication, I will not bring
disgrace upon another's spouse or child. The new birth will indeed
teach me not to reject shamefully the treasure I have in Christ, not
to lose it willingly, and not to drive from me the indwelling Holy
Spirit. Faith, if it truly dwells in me, will not permit me to do
aught in violation of my conscience and of the Word and the will of
God.

Should I be tempted by avarice to deceive and defraud my neighbor, or
to close my hand when I should give him aid, if I am a Christian and
born anew my faith will protest and turn me from such action. Can I
injure my neighbor or permit him to suffer want when I might
contribute to his relief, if I am aware that Christ has given his body
and shed his blood for me? How can there enter into the heart of the
Christian who believes he has received ineffable and eternal treasures
through the Son of God, the inclination to permit his neighbor to
suffer a trivial want when he can easily extend relief? Much less
would it be possible for the Christian to injure or to do injustice to
his neighbor for the sake of shamefully gaining some small advantage.
Rather he would reflect: "If I am, through Christ, a child of God and
an heir of heaven, the sum of this world's goods is far too
insignificant to induce me, for the sake of a penny, to deceive or
defraud anyone."

Then, too, if the devil tempt you by his tyrannical, factious spirits,
or even by your own thoughts, to forsake your pure doctrine for his
deceptions, you as a Christian are to resist the temptation,
remembering the blessings you have through faith received from Christ
in the Gospel; you have been liberated from darkness, blindness and
error; have learned rightly to know God; and have obtained the sure
consolation of grace and salvation, being aware upon what you must
depend in life and death. Why, then, yield to the devil, allowing
yourself to be robbed of salvation and eternal life? Why not much
rather let go every earthly thing than to deny the Word of God or to
permit this blessed consolation to be perverted, falsified and wrested
from you?

15. So, then, John says, "This is the victory that hath overcome the
world, even our faith." It is, indeed, saying very much for the
Christian faith to attribute to it such power over the devil and the
world--a power transcending all human ability. It requires an agency
greater and higher than human strength to triumph over the devil,
especially in the perplexing conflicts of conscience, when he vexes
and tortures the heart with terror of God's wrath in the attempt to
drive us to despair. At such times all our works must immediately sink
out of sight, leaving no help or victory except the faith that clings
to the word of Christ the Lord, believing that, for the sake of his
beloved Son, God will be merciful and will not condemn us for our sins
and unworthiness if we believe in him. Such faith as this stands fast
and gains the victory; neither the devil nor the gates of hell can
prevail against it.

16. The same is true in all temptations. Before we can resist and
overcome, we must have faith to believe that through Christ we have
remission of sins and the favor of God; that God gives us help and
strength to enable us to stand in the conflict and successfully resist
the devil, the world, the flesh and death; that we obtain the victory
by the divine power of the Holy Spirit, lacking whose help we all
would be far too weak to win. Without faith, we are under the power of
the devil and sin, being subject to them by natural birth. We can be
liberated in no other way than through faith in Christ.

17. That John has reference to faith in Christ is plainly evident from
his query, "Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth
that Jesus is the Son of God?" The apostle's purpose therein is to
make plain just what the true Scriptural faith is and what it implies.
For there are other beliefs which the world calls faith. The Jews, the
Turks, the Papists, claim they also believe in God who created heaven
and earth. That such belief is not the true faith, however, is proved
by the fact of its ineffectiveness. It does not contend and overcome,
and it permits the believer to remain as he is, in his natural birth
and under the power of the devil and sin.

But the faith which believes Jesus is the Son of God is the true,
triumphant sort. It is an invincible power wrought in the hearts of
Christians by the Holy Spirit. It is a sure knowledge, that does not
gaze and vacillate hither and thither according to its own thoughts.
It apprehends God in Christ the Son sent from heaven, through whom God
reveals his will and his love and transfers us from sin to grace, from
death to a new and eternal life; a refuge and trust that relies not
upon its own merit or worthiness, but upon Christ the Son of God, and
in his might and power battles against the world and the devil.
Therefore, the Christian faith is not the cold, ineffective, empty,
lifeless conception which Papists and others imagine it to be; no, it
is a living, active power, ever followed by victories and other
appropriate fruits. Where such fruits are lacking, faith and the new
birth are not there.


THE SOURCE OF FAITH.

18. Thus we have the first part of our sermon on the new birth and
faith. For the second part, John shows whence and by what means comes
the faith productive of victory; he says: "This is he that came by
water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with
the water and with the blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth
witness, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three who bear
witness [in earth], the Spirit, and the water, and the blood," etc.

19. John speaks of Christ's kingdom, and of the office the Holy Spirit
bears outwardly and visibly in the Christian Church, represented in
the ministerial office and the sacraments. He says: "There are three
who bear witness [in earth]." John, as usual, employs the word
"witness" in connection with the thought of preaching; it is a word he
frequently uses. For instance, in the beginning of his gospel, where
he speaks of John the Baptist, he says (ch. 1, 7): "The same came for
a witness, that he might bear witness of the light." So, in his use of
the phrase "witness" or "bearing witness," we are to understand simply
the public preaching of God's Word. Again, Christ says (John 16,
9-14), that the Holy Spirit shall bear witness of him; that is, he
shall publicly fill the ministerial office. This is God's own witness
to his Son. And here John tells us we have the victory over the devil
and the world, through faith, for the sake of Christ the Son of God.

20. This witness Christ himself ordains shall ever go forth, and
remain, in the Church. To this end Christ sent the Holy Spirit; to
this end Christ himself called and gave the Holy Spirit to the
apostles and their successors, ministers, preachers and teachers, as
Paul tells us (Eph 4, 11-13), who are to exercise the Word, that the
Word may resound always and everywhere in the world, reaching to
children's children, and on down to future generations. Were the
witness not in the Church, the pulpit--in fact, the entire outward
administration of the Church--would be useless, for every man could
read the Scriptures for himself. But for the sake of the uninstructed
masses and the constantly rising young who, as yet in ignorance of the
Word, need admonition--for the sake of these, the Spirit must bear
public witness or administer the preaching office that they, too, may
learn to know the grace of God manifest and given to us through
Christ, and that God's wondrous works may be publicly recognized and
extolled by us in opposition to the devil and the world.

21. Wherever such witness is borne, there certainly will be some
fruit. The witness never fails of effect. Some surely will be reached;
some will accept and believe it. Since it is the witness of the Holy
Spirit, and the apostle says here, the Spirit beareth witness, he will
be effective, producing in us that to which John refers when he says
we are children of God, and have the victory and eternal life. So the
Word--or the Gospel message accompanied by the witness of the
Spirit--and faith are vitally related. In the last analysis they are
inseparable. Without faith, preaching will be fruitless; and faith has
origin in the Word alone. Therefore, we should gladly hear and handle
the Word. Where it is, there is also the Holy Spirit; and where the
Spirit is, there must be at least some believers. Even if you have
already heard the Word and obtained faith, it will always continue to
strengthen you as you hear it. One knows not at what hour God may
touch and illumine his or another's heart. It may be in a time when we
least look for it, or in the individual of whom we have least
expectation. For the Spirit, as Christ says, breathes where he will,
and touches hearts when and where he knows them to be receptive.

22. It is relative to the power and energy wrought by the Holy Spirit
that John speaks, indicating the source and means of the power of this
witness, when he says of Christ, "This is he that came by water and
blood," etc. In this sentence is included all we possess in the
kingdom of Christ, and here is extolled the efficacy of our beloved
baptism and the blood or sufferings of Christ. Here John unites all
the elements in one bundle, so to speak, making a triune witness. They
bear joint witness to our faith and confirm it--these three: the
water, the blood and the Spirit.


BAPTISM BY WATER AND BLOOD.

23. Christ comes, first, "by water"; that is, by holy baptism. He
employs baptism as an outward sign of his work in the new birth of man
and in man's sanctification. This water by which Christ comes cannot
be a mere, empty sign; for he comes not merely to cleanse or bathe the
body with water, but to purify the whole man from all pollution and
blemishes inherent in him from Adam. Christ has instituted a cleansing
wholly unlike the Mosaic ablutions under the Old Testament
dispensation. Moses came with various laws relating to washings and
purifications, but they were only cleansings of the body or of the
flesh and had daily to be repeated. Now, since these ceremonials
contributed nothing to man's purification in God's sight--a thing to
be effected by nothing short of a new birth--Christ came with a new
order of cleansing, namely, baptism, which is not a mere external
ablution from physical impurities, but a washing effective in man's
purification from the inward pollution of his old sinful birth and
from an evil conscience, and bringing remission of sin and a good
conscience toward God, as Peter says. 1 Pet 3, 21. Paul, also (Tit 3,
5), calls baptism the "washing of regeneration and renewing of the
Holy Spirit."

24. Christ first instituted baptism through John the Baptist. To
distinguish it from the Mosaic baptism, the old Jewish rite of
washings, Christ styles it "a baptism unto repentance and the
remission of sins." He designs that therein man shall perceive his
inner impurities and know them to be, in God's sight, beyond the power
of outward Mosaic ablutions to reach; shall know also that
purification of the conscience and remission of sins must be sought
and obtained through the power of Christ the Lord, who instituted
baptism.

25. Secondly, that this cleansing of sin may be effected in us through
baptism, something more than mere water must be present. Mere water
could effect no more than do ordinary washings, and no more than
Jewish and Turkish baptisms and washings effect. There must be a power
and force accompanying the water effective to work inward
purification, the purification of the soul. Therefore, John says,
Christ came, not by water alone, but also by blood; not the blood of
bulls, or of calves, or of goats, those Old Testament sacrifices, but
his own blood, as Paul declares. Heb 9, 12. He comes through the
preaching office of the New Testament, which is his rule upon earth,
imparts to us the effective power of his shed blood, his sacrifice for
our sins, and thus applies to us the treasure wherewith he purchased
our redemption.

26. Hence there is now in baptism this efficacy of the blood of
Christ. That is the true caustic soap which not only removes the
uncleanness of the outer man, but penetrates to the inner nature,
consuming its impurities and cleansing them away, that the heart may
become pure in God's sight. Thus, the blood of Christ is so
effectively mingled with the baptismal water that we must not regard
it as mere water, but water beautifully dyed with the precious crimson
blood of our dear Saviour, Christ. Baptism, then, cannot rightly be
regarded a physical cleansing, like the Mosaic ablutions, or like the
cleansing the bathhouse affords; it is a healing baptism, a baptism or
washing with blood, instituted by none but Christ, the Son of God, and
that through his own death.

27. In the record of Christ's passion, careful note is made of the
fact that blood and water flowed immediately from the spear-thrust in
Christ's side as he hung upon the cross; it is pointed out as a
special miracle. The design there is to teach that Christ's shed blood
is not without significance, but stands for a washing or bath whose
efficacy is present in the baptism with water; and that from the slain
body of Christ issues an unceasing stream of water and blood, flowing
on down through the entire Christian Church, wherein we must all be
cleansed from our sins. What makes baptism so precious, so holy and
essential is the mingling and union of the water with the blood of
Christ; to be baptized into Christ with water is really to be washed
and cleansed with the blood of Christ.


THE SPIRIT.

28. To these two John adds a third witness, "the Spirit." The Spirit
bears witness with the water and the blood; in fact, through these
other two he operates. It is the Holy Spirit himself; not as he is
invisible up in heaven in his divine essence, but the Spirit who
publicly manifests himself through his external office and permits
himself to be heard through his Word. As John here asserts, the Spirit
bears witness on earth with both the water and the blood.

29. Neither Moses nor any other teacher in his doctrines of personal
effort and external purifications, his washings and his sprinklings of
the blood of sheep and goats--no such teacher brings and gives the
Spirit. With them is no Spirit, no divine power, no regeneration of
man. Any unbelieving, spiritless, wicked knave can exercise human
effort and practice physical cleansing. But Christ alone brings with
him the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, who sanctifies us
through the blood and water issuing from the divine side. The Spirit
makes us partakers of its cleansing influence through the external
office of preaching and through the sacraments, which are called the
office and gifts of the Holy Spirit. Through these the Spirit works in
the Christian Church just as he did at first, among the apostles on
the Day of Pentecost, and will continue to do in the whole world, unto
the last day. Without his ministration we would never obtain, nor know
anything about, the saving power of Christ's blood in baptism.

30. Such is the kingdom Christ unceasingly develops through the
Christian Church. In him we have eternal purification when to the
water is added the Spirit, who through the Word enkindles the heart
and purifies it, not with the cleansing qualities of the water alone,
but with the healing efficacy of the blood of Christ, whereby sins are
exterminated and God's wrath appeased. Although the work of our
redemption was wrought once for all in Christ's blood shed upon the
cross and is sufficient to cancel the sins of the entire world, yet
Christ so instituted it that the same efficacy should remain forever,
and be daily distributed and offered to us through the Holy Spirit.

31. This work of the Holy Spirit is neither received nor perceived
except through faith in this witness, the preached word of
Christ--when with the heart man grasps it and confidently believes it
is fulfilled in himself as the Word declares. Thus is the heart really
cleansed, the individual born anew, through the Holy Spirit present in
the sacred cleansing of water and of the blood of Christ.

Peter (1 Pet 1, 2) speaks of the sanctification of Christians as the
"sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ" upon us by the Holy Spirit
through the public preaching of the Gospel. This sprinkling radically
differs from the Jewish sprinkling of water, or of the ashes of a red
heifer, or of the blood of a dead lamb or goat, round about the altar
and upon the applicants for purification. In the sanctification of
Christians, the true consecrated water and the sprinkled blood of
Christ are combined; that is, the message concerning the shed blood of
our Lord Jesus Christ is "sprinkled," so to speak, upon the soul, and
wherever that Word touches the soul it is effective. The blood in this
case is not the ineffective, lifeless blood of a slain animal, but the
potent, living blood of the Son of God. Under its application the soul
cannot remain impure. Christ's blood purifies and heals from sin and
death; it strikes at their very foundation, and entirely releases us
from their power and grants us eternal life for soul and body.

32. Note, this text is a grand sermon on the witness Christians have
here on earth, which the apostle in concluding explains and extols in
beautiful and comforting words. He calls it a witness that God himself
bears to his Son and that serves to assure us of being the children of
God and possessors of eternal life. For he says: "And the witness is
this, that God gave unto us eternal life," etc. This is indeed an
excellent witness, which God himself witnesses and declares to you,
and the Holy Spirit brings and reveals to you. God cannot lie nor
deceive, he is the eternal, unchangeable truth, as already mentioned.
If you believe this witness, you certainly have received and possess
it, as John again says: "He that believeth on the Son of God hath the
witness in him."


FAITH TO BE IMPLICIT.

33. The true, saving doctrine of the Christian faith is this: There
must be witness and confidence of heart so absolute as to leave no
room for doubt that, through Christ, we are God's children and have
remission of sins and eternal life. By way of showing us how God
earnestly enjoins such faith upon us and forbids us to have any doubts
on the subject, John says, "He that believeth not God hath made him a
liar; because he hath not believed in the witness that God hath borne
concerning his Son."

34. This passage annihilates the pernicious, damnable, diabolical
doctrine of the Papists, who shamelessly claim it is right to doubt
and that a Christian should doubt his title to grace. This doctrine is
equivalent to teaching the propriety of disbelieving the testimony of
God. It is charging God with falsehood, dishonoring and blaspheming
the Lord Christ, openly affronting the Holy Spirit, knowingly plunging
people into unpardonable sins and blasphemies and consequently sending
them to the devil without hope or comfort of salvation.

35. Such is the beautiful fruit of papistical doctrine; such is
papistical holiness. This is what they who would be the Christian
Church recommend to us. They would have us, with them, openly and
fearlessly charge God with falsehood, trample his Word under foot and
worship the devil in his stead. Further, they require us to praise and
honor them and render them thanks, rejoicing to be offered their
stipulated terms of friendship. At the same time they have not in a
single instance repented of their abominable idolatry or acknowledged
their error; rather they plume themselves on having in their purity
taught no wrong. If we will not accede to their demands, we must be
persecuted, put to death, exterminated everywhere in the world with
fire and sword. But the devil and death may accede in our stead. Let
the godly Christian desire and pray that God may hurl such accursed
doctrine into the abyss of hell and punish as they deserve the
impenitent blasphemers since they will not cease. And let all the
people say, Amen, amen.

36. Note particularly the consolation of Paul's concluding words. Here
he embraces in one clear word the whole substance of the Gospel when
he says: "He that hath the Son hath the life; he that hath not the Son
of God hath not the life." How could he speak plainer and more
forcibly? What is the need of further inquiry and investigation or
discussion of this theme? Do you wish to have assurance of eternal
life? According to this verse, you have it truly if you possess Christ
the Son of God; and you have Christ when you believe this witness and
preaching as John says, and you should confidently rely upon it in
life and in death as the divine, eternal truth. But if you believe
not, you have not life; and all effort and suffering on your part,
yes, combined with the effort and suffering of the whole world, will
profit you nothing. You have not the Son of God if you do not believe
God's witness of him but charge God with falsehood.



_Second Sunday After Easter_

Text: First Peter 2, 20-25.

20 For what glory is it, if, when ye sin, and are buffeted for it, ye
shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it,
ye shall take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. 21 For
hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for you, leaving
you an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 who did no sin,
neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 who, when he was reviled,
reviled not again; when he suffered, threatened not; but committed
himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24 who his own self bare our
sins in his body upon the tree, that we, having died unto sins, might
live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye were healed. 25 For ye
were going astray like sheep; but are now returned unto the Shepherd
and Bishop of your souls.


PATIENCE UNDER TRIBULATION.

1. This epistle lesson is a beautiful selection from apostolic
teaching. Doubtless it was intentionally arranged for this Sunday; for
Peter's concluding words, "For ye were going astray like sheep; but
are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls," accord
with the gospel selection about the Good Shepherd. Yet it might also
properly serve in part for the text of a sermon on the passion of
Christ; for the sufferings of Christ are here presented as an example
unto us. In the preceding part of the chapter, Peter taught the
Christians how, having obtained faith, they are to exhibit its
fruits--good works in the various stations of life. Particularly does
he admonish them to manifest the fruit of patience under crosses and
afflictions.

2. When the individual accepts Christ and begins to profess his faith
in word and life, invariably--it cannot be otherwise--the world, that
eternal enemy of Christ and faithfully-obedient servant of the devil,
will be dissatisfied. The world regards it contemptible, disgraceful,
to live any life but one pleasing to itself, to do and speak aught but
as it desires. Its rage is excited toward the Christian and it
proceeds to persecute, to torture, even to murder him when possible.
We often hear the wiseacre scoffers say that Christ could have enjoyed
peace had he desired to. The same may be said of Christians; they
could have peace and pleasure if they would but take advice and
conform to the world.

3. What are we to do? It is a fact that to maintain and obey the truth
is to stir up wrath and hatred. Even the heathen assert as much. But
the fault lies not with the advocate of truth but with its rejecters.
Is the truth not to be preached at all? Must we be silent and permit
all mankind to go direct to hell? Who could or would heap upon himself
the guilt of such negligence? The godly Christian, who looks for
eternal life after the present one and who aims to help others to
attain unto the same happy goal, assuredly must act the part he
professes, must assert his belief and show the world how it travels
the broad road to hell and eternal death. And to do so is to
antagonize the world and incur the displeasure of the devil.

4. Now, since there is no escaping the fact that he who would confess
Christ and make the world better must, in return for his service and
benefactions, heap upon himself the enmity of the devil and his
adherents, as Peter says--since this is the case, we must remember
that it is incumbent upon us to have patience when the world manifests
its bitterest, most hateful enmity toward our doctrine and toward our
very lives, when it reviles and slanders and persecutes us to the
utmost for our principles. Peter here admonishes and persuades
Christians unto patience under these circumstances, and at the same
time seeks to comfort them with tender and impressive words.

5. First, Peter reminds the believers of their calling--of their
reason and purpose in embracing Christianity. He says, in effect:
"Remember, belief in Christ necessitates confession of him, and the
entire Christian Church is numbered in the holy, divine calling that
stands for the praise of God and the promotion of his kingdom." An
essential feature of this calling is the suffering of evil in return
for good. It seems inevitable that Christians be condemned in the eyes
of the world and incur its highest displeasures; that they be destined
to take up the gauntlet against the devil and the world. It is said
(Ps 44, 22): "For thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are
accounted as sheep for the slaughter," or for the sacrifice.
Sacrificial sheep were kept in an enclosure, not permitted to go to
pasture with the others. They were not kept for breeding, but to be
daily, one after another, slaughtered.

6. Paul would say: "What will you do, beloved Christians? Will you
live in the world and not encounter any persecution because of your
good deeds? Will you rage at the wickedness of the world, and in your
rage become wicked yourself and commit evil? Understand, you are
called to suffer persecutions; they are a consequence of your baptism,
your Christianity. For these you renounced the devil and professed
Christ. You are baptized unto the suffering of every sort of
misfortune, unto the enduring of the world and the devil." You cannot
escape the smoke when compelled to live in the inn where the devil is
host and the whole house is filled with it. Again, if you would have
fire, you must have smoke as a consequence; if you would be a
Christian and a child of God, you must endure the resultant evils that
befall you.

7. In short, the Christian, because he is a Christian, is subjected to
the holy and precious cross. He must suffer at the hands of men and of
the devil, who plague and provoke him; outwardly with misery,
persecution, poverty and illness, or inwardly--in heart--with their
poisonous darts. The cross is the Christian's sign and watchword in
his holy, precious, noble and happy calling unto eternal life. To such
a calling must we render full dues and regard as good whatever it
brings. And why should we complain? Do not even wicked knaves and
opposers of Christians often suffer at the hands of one another what
they are not pleased to endure? And every man must frequently suffer
injuries and misfortunes relative to body, property, wife and
children.

8. Then, if you would be a Christian and live justly in your calling,
be not so terribly alarmed, so filled with hostile rage, so extremely
impatient, at the torments of the world and the devil. If you are
unwilling to suffer and to be reviled and slandered, if you prefer
honor and ease, then deny Christ and embrace the delights of the world
and the devil. You will not, even then, be wholly free from suffering
and sorrow, though it will be your prerogative not to suffer as a
Christian and for the sake of Christ. At the same time, you will
discover that even though you enjoy only pleasure on earth, it will be
but for a brief time and ultimately you will find the bitter end of
the pleasure sought.


CHRIST OUR PATTERN.

9. In the second place, by way of rendering more impressive his
admonition, Peter holds up the example of our real Master, our Leader
and Lord, Christ, who endured persecutions similar to ours, and
himself suffered more than any. The apostle refers to him in a truly
scriptural way--as of a twin or dual character. He presents him not as
an example of a saint in the ordinary sense, but as the real Shepherd
and Bishop of our souls, who suffered for us, making sacrifice for our
sins in his own body on the cross. In this capacity, he is our
treasure, comfort and salvation.

10. The apostle beautifully and strikingly points out the sublime
perfections of our Pattern, in his suffering, by way of gently urging
us to patience. He presents the chief points of Christ's endurance,
examples of real patience; all our sufferings, when compared with
those of Christ, are cast into the shade. "The passion of Christ,"
Peter would say, "the suffering of the Lord, is a surpassing, a
preëminent and sublimely glorious thing, transcending every other
instance of suffering; first, because it was for an example to us;
second, because he suffered to save us; third, because he suffered
innocently in all respects, never having committed any sin." In these
three points we must leave to him alone the distinction, humbling
ourselves before them; even had we suffered death in its every form,
we must cry that all our suffering is nothing in comparison with his.

Even if we could attain to the sublimest, the supreme, the most
glorious degree of suffering, it would be but walking in his
footprints, following his example; it would be but to fall far short
of his suffering. He would stand preëminent--the Master. He would
maintain immeasurable superiority and we would still be left to follow
as best we could. The extent of his agony, the intensity and
bitterness of his sufferings, no one on earth can comprehend. And if
it be beyond our comprehension, how much more is it beyond our power
to imitate or experience. We may thank God we have it before us for an
example to behold and follow. True, we fall far short of perfect
following, but we may approach it in proportion to our sufferings,
faith and patience; for one may exceed another in these things.

Christ is an example, Peter says, for all saints; not for a certain
few. Contrasted with Christ, all saints must with downcast eyes
confess: "Intense, bitter, grievous as our sufferings truly are, when
the sufferings of Christ our Lord are mentioned we will willingly keep
silent; for no human example of suffering will compare with that of
Christ."

11. Now, this one fact, that one so exalted as Christ himself, the
only and eternal Son of God, has trod the path of suffering before us,
enduring unlimited distress, agony transcending the power of humanity
to experience--this alone should be enough to admonish and urge anyone
to patiently endure affliction. Why, then, should we disciples, we who
are so insignificant and inexperienced in comparison with our
Master--why should we be at all troubled at any suffering for his
sake? especially when all he asks of us is to follow him, to learn of
him and to remain his disciples. Here, mark you, is the example set
before the entire Christian Church, the pattern she is to follow to
the extent of at least walking in Christ's steps, at the same time,
however, remembering that her most intense sufferings are naught in
comparison to a single drop of his shed blood, as we shall hear later.

12. Again, this example assumes its ineffable and inimitable character
from the fact that Christ suffered not for himself, nor yet merely as
an example, but in our stead. This act, to say the least, transcends
all human ability. No saint can boast of equaling this example, can
say he suffered for another as Christ suffered for our sins. No, here
all boasting is summarily disposed of. In respect to atonement, Christ
left us no example, for none can imitate him in that. He stands alone
there. He alone was called to suffer for all men; for those
individuals now called and holy, and for the still uncalled and
sinners.

13. The atonement is the chief, the most exalted, article of the
Christian doctrine. Faith alone apprehends it as the highest good, the
greatest blessing, of our salvation, and recognizes that we cannot, by
our works or our sufferings, do or merit anything in atoning for sin.
The manner in which this subject is scripturally presented prohibits
us from adding to it anything of human origin. But so the accursed
popedom has done in the teachings of its pillars and supporters the
monks, who regard the sufferings of Christ as merely an example to us.
They pervert and render immaterial the fact that he suffered for us;
they place the entire responsibility upon ourselves, as if we, by our
own works or our suffering are to make satisfaction for our sins, to
appease God's wrath and to merit grace. This is a doctrine not found
in the Word of God, but is of their own trivial, self-selected,
self-devised and false human teachings.

14. They have carried their untruthful, worthless inventions to the
extent of claiming for the saints not only sufficient acquired merit
for their own salvation, but a large accumulated surplus available for
others, which they have bequeathed to the Pope, thus furnishing him
with an abundant treasury. The Pope, through indulgences, is to
distribute this excess, these superfluous merits, as he feels
disposed, at the same time dipping out for himself and his shorn fat
swine the riches of the world; indeed, the ecclesiasts distribute
their own merits and works. This is the refined monastic chastity,
poverty and rigid obedience of the orders--nothing but shameless
falsehood and scandalous vice, practiced under that covering, both
privately and publicly, with the exception of a few who were sincere
in their desire to be monks, of whom I was one. These falsehoods the
orders readily sold to the laity on deathbeds and under other
circumstances.

Indeed, wretched mortals who had incurred a death penalty and were
about to be publicly executed, they referred not to Christ for
comfort, but counseled patience in their own well-deserved suffering
and death; as if God would accept their pain as atonement for their
sins if only they suffered patiently. Purchasing of merit was the
ecclesiasts' chief doctrine, their strongest point. They fearlessly
proclaimed it in public, and through its influence erected numerous
churches and cloisters and satiated the avarice and cupidity of the
Pope. And I too, alas, was one of these knaves until God delivered me.
And now, God be praised, I am execrated and condemned by the hellish
seat of the Roman dragon with its scales because I assailed this papal
doctrine and would not justify it.

15. Oh, the shameful abomination, that in the temple of God and in the
Christian Church must be taught and received things which make wholly
insignificant the sufferings and death of Christ! Gracious God! what
can be said for human merit--for superfluity of human merit--when not
one saint on earth has, with all his pains, suffered enough to cancel
his own obligations; much less to be entitled to the honor of making
his sufferings avail anything before God's judgment-seat, by way of
remuneration or satisfaction for the mortal sins of others in the face
of divine wrath? Note, Peter says Christ left us an example that we
should follow his steps; which is but concluding that no saint ever
wrought or suffered enough to warrant the claim: "I have accomplished
the measure--reached the limit; Christ is no more an example and
pattern for me." No; the saint ought to be ashamed to boast of his
sufferings in comparison to those of Christ, and ought to rejoice in
the privilege of being partaker of the divine pain, of sharing it so
far as he can, and thus be found in the footsteps of Christ.

16. The theme of Christ's passion, then, must far outrank every other.
His sufferings are like pure and precious gold, compared to which ours
are as nothing. No one but Christ has suffered for the sins of
another. No man has ever paid the price of his own sins, great or
small. Even if man's suffering could avail aught for sin, the
individual could not go beyond expiating his own sins. But Christ had
no need at all to suffer for himself; for, as follows in the text, he
had committed no sin. He suffered to leave us an example, but yet also
to bring to man the great blessing of being able to say, "My sins and
the sins of the whole world were atoned for upon the cross, blotted
out, through Christ's death." Peter, Mary, John the Baptist, and every
soul born of woman must include himself or herself in this statement,
"Christ also suffered for you."

17. In the third place, Christ stands preëminent, above all others, in
the affirmation of Peter, quoted from Isaiah 53, 9:

"Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth."

18. You may draw your own conclusions as to the eminence of such a
one; for certainly there is to be found no other human being who has
not at some time sinned in word or deed. "If any man stumbleth not in
word, the same is a perfect man," says James 3, 2. But where is this
perfect man, and what is his name? It is this Christ, he alone of all,
James should have added. For Peter excludes all other individuals, in
one class, saying, "Ye were going astray like sheep." And later on
(ch. 3, 18) he tells us plainly, "Christ also suffered for sins once,
the righteous for the unrighteous." This statement leaves no man
innocent of sin, either in word or deed; and in word and deed is
included man's whole life. Speech and action are associated in various
Scripture references; as in Psalm 34, 13-14: "Keep thy tongue from
evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do
good." But in speech is the greatest liability to error. In teaching,
counseling, admonishing, consoling and censuring, and in confessing
the truth, no one indeed will be found so perfect in his utterances as
never to commit a blunder.

19. But Christ is the one perfect example in this respect. It is
impossible for saints to attain to his faultlessness. Surely no
man--unless he desires to be a liar and a true disciple of the devil
instead of a child of God and a faithful Christian--will be
presumptuous enough to put himself on an equality with Christ, will
dare boast himself without sin in word and act. Christ alone has
suffered, the righteous for the unrighteous; that prerogative can
honorably and truthfully be ascribed only to Christ the Lord, and is
his perpetually. No man is just and innocent in word and act. All must
confess their sufferings, of whatever nature, to be the result of
their own sins, and well deserved chastisement. For the fact of having
escaped the eternal wrath, condemnation and punishment of God, they
must thank this just one alone, he who, being himself blameless,
voluntarily suffered to make satisfaction for the unrighteous, and
appeased God's wrath. The sufferings of all saints, then, must be
rated far below those of Christ the Lord. The saints must clothe and
adorn themselves with his innocence, and with the entire Christian
Church pray, "Forgive us our trespasses"; and they must confess the
article, "I believe in the forgiveness of sins."

20. Now, let us sum up the three arguments Peter uses in admonishing
Christians to patience in suffering. First: He says, "Hereunto were ye
called." Though you do have to suffer much and severely, you have ever
before you the example of Christ, to the limit of whose sufferings you
can never attain. You dare not boast even if you have suffered
everything. Moreover, you are under obligation to suffer for God's
sake. Second: Christ did not suffer for his own sake, nor of
necessity; he suffered for your sake, and all from good will toward
you. Third: He was wholly innocent--free from sin; internally--in
heart--and externally--in word and deed. For where evil dwells in the
heart, it cannot long remain concealed. It must manifest itself in
words, at least. Christ says (Mt 12, 34), "Out of the abundance of the
heart the mouth speaketh."

21. Why, then, should you complain of your suffering or refuse to
suffer what your sins really deserve? Indeed, you deserve much more
than you receive--even eternal suffering. But God forgives you and
remits the eternal punishment for the sake of Christ the Lord,
desiring that you patiently endure the lesser suffering for the utter
mortification of the sins inherent in your flesh and blood. To make
such lot the less grievous to you, Christ has gone before and left you
an example of perfect patience under the most intense suffering, an
example equaled nowhere in the world. The Supreme Majesty, God's own
Son, suffered in the most ignominious manner the extremity of torture,
pain and anguish in body and soul, something intolerable to mere human
nature; and that innocently, and for us condemned sinners--suffering
for the sins of strangers.

"Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered
threatened not."

22. To further emphasize and make effectual in us the example of
Christ's patience, Peter proceeds to analyze it, to show it in its
true colors, to mention the details and make plain how it differs from
any other example of suffering. He has told us before that Christ did
no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth. Why, then, did the Jews
persecute and crucify him--put him to death? Inquire into his entire
life history and you will find that no one could justly impeach, nor
could convict, him for any sin. He himself appealed to his enemies to
prove aught of sin in him. No one could show an injury he had ever
done to anyone, or a wrong he had ever taught or practiced. On the
contrary, he had gone about to bring to the Jewish nation the grace
and salvation of God. He had revealed God's Word, opened the eyes of
the blind, healed the sick, cast out devils, fed great multitudes when
hungry and lacking food. In short, in all his life, there was nothing
in word or act but truth, goodness, beneficence and a disposition to
aid. In return for the good he wrought, he was compelled to receive
the ungrateful reward of man's hatred and condemnation. His enemies
were moved solely by obdurate, diabolical hatred, and could not cease
their persecutions until they brought him to the cross, where he was
disgracefully hung up nude between two murderers, being lifted up as
unworthy to touch the earth and to live among men.

23. Christ was under no obligation to endure disgrace and
ill-treatment. He might have refrained from his benevolent
ministrations when he saw the futility of his efforts with the Jews.
But he did not so; even in his sufferings upon the cross he charitably
prayed for his enemies. He had authority, he had power enough, and he
would have been justified in the action, had he revenged himself on
his furious enemies, invoked evil upon them, and execrated them as
they deserved to be execrated; for they had treated him with gross
injustice before all the world, as even the testimony of his betrayer
and his judge and all creatures admitted, and had bitterly reviled him
when he hung upon the cross. But he did none of these things. He bore
with ineffable meekness and patience all the ill-treatment his enemies
could heap upon him. Even in his extremity of anguish, he benevolently
interceded for them to his Heavenly Father, to which act the prophet
Isaiah (ch. 53) offers a tribute of high praise.

24. Notice, we have here in all respects a perfect and inimitable
example of patience--patience of the most exalted kind. In this
example we may behold as in a glass what we have yet to learn of calm
endurance, and thus be impelled to imitate that example in some small
measure at least.

25. Not without reason does Peter applaud the fact that when Christ
was reviled he reviled not again, and when he suffered he threatened
not. Though to endure undeserved violence and injustice is hard
enough, that which more than aught else naturally renders suffering
grievous and makes men impatient is to experience the monstrous
unfairness of receiving the mean and vexatious reward of ingratitude
from individuals who have enjoyed one's favors and greatest
benefactions. Base ingratitude is extremely painful for human nature
to endure. It makes the heart flutter and the blood boil with a spirit
of revenge. When no alternative presents, an outburst of reviling,
execration and threatening follows. Flesh and blood has not the power
of restraint to enable it to remain calm when evil is returned for
favors and benevolence, and to say, "God be thanked."

26. Mark the example of Christ, however, and there learn to censure
yourself. Beloved, how can you complain when you see how infinitely
greater was the grief and how much more painful the anxiety endured by
your beloved Lord and faithful Saviour, the Son of God himself, who
yet bore all patiently and submissively and, more than that, prayed
for those instrumental in causing that agony? Who with a single drop
of Christian blood in his heart would not blush with shame to be
guilty of murmuring at his sufferings when, before God, he is so
sinful and is deserving of much more affliction? Wicked, unprofitable
and condemned servant must he be who does not follow his Lord's
example of endurance but presumes to think himself better and nobler
than Christ; who with inimical spirit murmurs, complaining of great
injustice, when he really deserves affliction, and when he suffers
infinitely less than did his dear, righteous, innocent Lord. Beloved,
if Christ so suffered in return for the great blessing he conferred,
be not too indolent to imitate him in some degree by suffering without
anger and reproaches. Less reason have you to be angry and reproachful
from the fact that you, too, were one whose sins brought Christ to the
cross.

27. But you may say: "What? Did not Christ revile when (Mt 23) he
called the scribes and pharisees hypocrites, murderers, serpents, a
generation of vipers, and even more severely rebuked them?" I reply:
Oh yes, we would gladly follow Christ's example here; we could
cheerfully revile and accuse. It is much easier than being patient. We
would need no Master to help us in this. But note what Peter says:
When Christ was about to suffer death, having fulfilled the obligation
of his ministry--having proclaimed the truth, rebuked falsehood and
been brought to the cross therefor--and being about to conclude his
mission by suffering, he reviled not; as a sheep for the slaughter, he
permitted himself to be executed and opened not his mouth against his
calumniators and murderers. See Isaiah 53, 7.

28. It is necessary, then, to make a distinction here. Reviling--or
pronouncing execrations and threats--is of two kinds. In one case it
is official and pronounced of God; in the other, without authority and
comes from man. It was one of the duties of Christ's office on earth,
and one now incumbent upon those called to bear that office after him,
to assert the truth and censure the evil. Such a course is essential
to the honor of God and the salvation of souls; for if the truth were
to be ignored, who would come to God? Official chastisement is a work
of divine, Christian love. It is a parental duty imposed of God. God
has implanted in the parent nature intense love for the child; at the
same time, if parents are godly and have proper affection for their
children they will not connive at, or let pass unpunished, the
disobedience of the latter. They must chastise, both with reproof and
with keen rods. These are official strokes--love stripes--enjoined of
God, and their infliction is our duty. They are not injurious, but
beneficial. Solomon says (Prov 13, 24): "He that spareth his rod
hateth his son; but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes." And
Jesus the son of Sirach says in Ecclesiasticus: "He that loveth his
son causeth him oft to feel the rod, that he may have joy of him in
the end."

29. So everyone may, and should, reprove when official duty or his
neighbor's case requires; it serves to reform the subject. To quote
Solomon again (Prov 27, 6): "Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but
the kisses of an enemy are profuse [deceitful]." Reproofs and stripes
prompted by love and a faithful heart are beneficial. On the other
hand, an enemy may use fair and flattering words when he has enmity
and deceit at heart, preferring to let you go on to ruin rather than
by gentle reproof to warn of danger and rescue you from destruction.
The faithful, conscientious physician must often, of necessity and
with great pain to the patient, amputate a limb in order to save the
body.

Paul, too, commands pious bishops to be urgent in season, out of
season; to reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering. 2 Tim 4,
2; Tit 2, 15. By our silence to commend or to encourage to evil the
wrong-doer would not be to manifest one's love to the offender, but
rather to give him over wholly to death and the devil.

30. It was this love and sincerity of heart which prompted Christ in
his office to censure and rebuke, for which he merited only wrath and
hatred; as we say, he sought his stripes. But the duty of his office
required such action on his part. His motive was to turn the
transgressors from their blindness and malice, and to rescue them from
perdition; and he could not be deterred by the consequent persecution,
cross and death which awaited. But having fulfilled his official
duties, and the hour of his suffering having arrived, he suffered
patiently, permitting his enemies to heap upon him all possible evil
in return for his manifested love and blessings. Instead of angrily
reviling and execrating while, suspended from the cross, he endured
the most shameful calumnies, he, with strong cries and with tears,
prayed, "Father, forgive them." It was, indeed, a heart of
unfathomable love that, in the midst of extreme suffering, had
compassion on its persecutors and blessed them in greater measure than
parent can bless child or one individual bless another.

31. Observe, then, the distinction between official and unofficial
censure and rebuke; the former is prompted by love, and the latter by
wrath and hatred. The world, however, is artful and cunning enough
when it hears this distinction, to pervert and confuse the two,
exercising its own revenge under the name of official zeal and
reproof. For instance, if a preacher is disposed to act the knave, he
can easily give vent to his personal anger and vengeance in his pulpit
utterances, censuring and rebuking as he pleases, and then claim it is
all in obedience to the demand of office and for the good of the
people.

Again, a judge, a mayor, or other prominent official, desiring
revengefully to satisfy a personal grudge, can more successfully
accomplish his object under the title of the office he bears and the
obligations imposed upon him for the punishment of the wicked than in
any other way. This practice now frequently obtains since the world
has learned to use the Gospel to conceal its malice and knavery, to
adorn it with the name of a divinely appointed office. It ever uses
the name and Word of God to cloak its infamy. But who is vigilant
enough to elude such knavery and to make the children of the devil
honest? Let him who would be a Christian, then, take heed how he shall
answer such accusation. Assuredly God will not allow himself to be
deceived. He will, in due time, relieve the innocent victim of
injustice, and his punishment will seek out the wicked. Peter says,
further:

"But committed himself to him that judgeth righteously."

32. Who revealed to Peter the nature of Christ's thoughts upon the
cross? The apostle has just been saying that Christ reviled not nor
thought of revenge, but rather manifested love and good-will toward
his virulent enemies. How could Christ approve such malice? Truly he
could not endorse it. Nor could he commend his enemies for crucifying
him and putting him to death upon the cross without cause. No such
conclusion may be drawn. The devil and his adherents must not construe
the passage to mean license to heap all manner of torture and distress
upon Christ and his saints as upon those who must not only patiently
bear these things, unmoved by revengeful desires, but must render
gratitude to their persecutors as if their acts were praiseworthy. No;
this can by no means be permitted.

Could I be said to suffer innocently if I am obliged to confess I am
well treated? Several times in this epistle Peter admonishes
Christians not to suffer as evil-doers, thieves, murderers. But if I
suffer innocently and am unjustly treated, I am not to justify the
ill-treatment and strengthen the enemy in his sins; for, so doing, I
would approve his conduct and assume the guilt attributed. That
principle would be pleasing to the Pope and the devil and to tyrants;
they would willingly have it obtain. They are not wholly satisfied
even to murder the innocent; they would prefer to be justified in
their action--to have us confess to wrong-doing. But that is something
no Christian heart will do; it may be left to the devil.

33. But the Papists will say: "However, it is written, You must suffer
and not revile; you must thank God for persecution and pray for your
enemies." That is true; but it is one thing to suffer patiently, the
while wishing your enemies well and praying for them, and quite a
different thing to justify them in their conduct. I must cease not to
confess the truth and maintain my innocence, both in heart and with my
lips. But if men will not accept my word, my heart must tell me I have
suffered injustice. Rather should I endure ten deaths, could my
enemies inflict them, than to condemn myself in violation of
conscience. So, when Peter made this little statement about Christ not
reviling nor threatening, which was true, he did not mean that Christ
justified his persecutors in their treatment of him. But what are we
to do? If we do not justify our enemies when they make us suffer, they
will do even worse things to us; for they desire the name and the
credit, in the eyes of the world, of having done right by us. Yes, as
Christ has somewhere said, they would have it thought they do God
great service by murdering us. Now, who is to judge and decide the
question?

34. Peter declares that Christ committed the matter to him who judges
righteously. How should he do otherwise, knowing that his persecutors
treated him unjustly and yet maintained the contrary? There was for
him no judge on earth. He was compelled to commit the matter to that
righteous judge, his Heavenly Father. Well he knew that such sins and
blasphemies could not go unpunished. No, the sentence was already
passed, the sword sharpened, the angels given orders, for the
overthrow of Jerusalem. Previous to his sufferings, on his way to
Jerusalem, as Christ beheld the city, he announced its coming doom and
wept over it. Therefore, he prays for his enemies, saying: "Dear
Father, I must commit the matter to thee, since they refuse to hear or
to see the wrong they do. Well I know they are rushing into thy wrath
and thy terrible punishment, but I pray thee to forgive them what they
do to me." And so they would have been forgiven had they afterward
repented at the apostles' preaching, and had they not further sinned
in persecuting God's Word and thus brought upon their unrepentant
selves ultimate punishment.


CHRIST OUR EXAMPLE IN SUFFERING.

35. Observe, as Christ did, so should we conduct ourselves in our
sufferings; not approving or assenting to whatever may be heaped upon
us, but yet not seeking revenge. We are to commit the matter to God,
who will judge aright. We cannot maintain our rights before the world;
therefore we must commit our cause to God, who judges righteously and
who will not allow calumniation of his Word and persecution of
believers to pass unpunished. We must, however, pray for our
persecutors, that they may be converted and escape future wrath and
punishment; and so we do. If it is possible for some of the bishops
and other Gospel-persecuting tyrants to be converted, we will heartily
pray and desire that their conversion may come to pass. But if it be
impossible, as now, alas, is to be feared, since, after having been
much admonished and often prayed for and having enjoyed the best
advantages, they wittingly rage against the known truth--if so, then
we must commit them to God's judgment. What more can we do?

I am persuaded that the intolerable persecution and calumniating of
the Gospel prevalent today cannot be permitted to pass with impunity.
It must ultimately meet the coming judgment upon the Papacy and
Germany. Of this there can be no doubt. But it is ours to continue
preaching, praying, admonishing and beseeching, in the hope of
effecting repentance. Then, if our enemies still refuse to turn from
their evil ways, if they perish in their impenitence, what can we do
but say: "Dear God, we commit the matter to thee. Thou wilt punish
them; thou canst, indeed, most terribly."

36. Such, mark you, is the example of Christ, presented to the entire
Christian Church--set up as a pattern for her. Hence it is the duty of
the Church, as Peter elsewhere tells us, to arm herself with the same
mind which was Christ's, to suffer as Christ did and to think: If
Christ, my Lord and Leader, has suffered for me with so great meekness
and patience, how much more reason have I to submit to suffering! And
what can it harm me to suffer when I know it is God's will? Not
because the suffering in itself is so perfecting and precious, but for
the sake of the dear Saviour who suffered for me. I know, too, that my
persecutors thus commit most abominable sins against God and incur his
wrath and punishment. Why, then, should I be impatient or desire
revenge? I am already too highly honored of God in the fact that my
sufferings meet his approbation and that he will perfectly avenge me
of mine enemies. What can it advantage me for them to burn eternally
in hell? I will rather pray and use my utmost efforts for their
conversion. If I fail and they are determined to persist in their
course, I must bring the matter home to God--must commit it to him.

"Who his own self bare our sins in his body upon the tree, that we,
having died unto sins, might live unto righteousness."

37. Peter's is the true preaching concerning the passion of Christ. He
teaches not only the merit in Christ's sufferings, but introduces both
themes--its efficacy and example. Such is Paul's custom, also. In this
verse Peter presents Christ's sufferings in the light of a sacrifice
for sin. They constitute a work acceptable to God as satisfaction for
the sins of the whole world and effective to reconcile him to men. So
great is God's wrath toward sin that none but that eternal one, the
Son of God, could avert it. He had himself to be the sacrifice, to
allow his body to be nailed to the cross. The cross was the altar
whereupon the sacrifice was consumed--wholly burned--in the fire of
his unfathomable love. He had to be his own high priest in this
sacrifice: for no earthly mortal, all being sinners and unclean, could
offer to God the sacrifice of his beloved and wholly sinless Son; the
boasting of the priests of Antichrist in regard to their masses, to
the contrary notwithstanding. Now, by the single sacrifice of God's
Son, our sins are remitted and we obtain grace and forgiveness; and
this fact can be grasped in no other way than through faith.

38. Peter mentions the ultimate object of the divine sacrifice made
for us, what it accomplished in us, the fruit Christ's passion shall
yield; for he would not have the Christian Church overlook that point,
or neglect to preach it. Christ, he tells us, took upon himself our
sins, suffering the penalty. Therefore, Christ alone is entitled to be
called a sacrifice for all our sins. It was not designed, however,
that after the sacrifice we should remain as before; on the contrary,
the purpose was ultimately to work in us freedom from sins, to have us
live no longer unto sin but unto righteousness. Now, if in Christ our
sins are sacrificed, they are put to death, blotted out; for to
sacrifice means to slay, to kill. Under the Old Testament
dispensation, all sacrifices had to be presented to God slain. Now, if
our sins are put to death, it is not meant that we are to live in
them.

39. Therefore, the saving doctrine of remission of sins and of
Christ's grace cannot be so construed as to admit of our continuing in
the old life and following our own desires. According to Paul (Rom 6,
1-8), enjoying grace and remission of sins does not give license to
live in sin. How shall we who are dead to sin live any longer therein?
The very fact that we may be reckoned dead unto sins means they may no
longer live and reign in us. In Christ's holy body were they throttled
and slain expressly that they might also be slain in us.

40. Be careful, then, what you believe and how you live, that the
efficacy of Christ's sufferings may be manifestly fulfilled in you.
If, through faith, you have rightly apprehended his sacrifice, its
virtue will be indicated in the subduing and mortifying of your sins,
even as they are already slain and dead through his death on the
cross. But if you continue to live in sins, you cannot say they are
dead in you. You but deceive yourself, and your own evidence is false
when you boast of Christ in whom all sins are put to death, if sin
remains vigorous in you. We naturally conclude it is inconsistent for
sin to be dead in us and yet alive; for us to be free from sin and yet
captive or fast therein. This fact has already been sufficiently
pointed out.

41. It is ours, Peter says, not only to believe that Christ has,
through the sacrifice of his own body, put to death sin and liberated
us therefrom--a thing the combined sacrifices of all mortal bodies
could never have effected--but, sin being put to death by him, to
endeavor to become ever more and more free from sin's sway in our
bodies, and to live henceforth unto righteousness, until we shall be
completely and finally released from sin through death. Therefore, if
before you believed on Christ you were an adulterer, a miser, a
coveter, a maligner, you ought now to regard all these sins as dead,
throttled through Christ; the benefit is yours through faith in his
sacrifice, and your sins should henceforth cease to reign in you. If
you have not so received the sacrifice, you cannot boast of Christ and
faith. Though Christ has died for you, though your sins have been put
upon him and reckoned dead, still you are not rid of those sins if you
do not desire to be, if you do not, through faith, apprehend Christ
and his blessing, nor in your life and conduct follow his example.

42. Now you will say: "But you teach that we are all sinners, that
there is not even a saint on earth without sin. And surely we must
confess the article, 'I believe in the remission of sins,' and must
pray, 'Forgive us our debts.'" I reply, most assuredly you never will
attain sinless perfection here on earth; if such were the case you
would have no further need for faith and Christ. At the same time, it
is not designed that you should continue as you were before obtaining
remission of sins through faith. I speak of known sins wittingly
persisted in, in spite of the rebuke and condemnation of conscience.
These should be dead in you; in other words, they are not to rule you,
but you are to rule them, to resist them, to undertake their
mortification. And if occasionally you fail, if you stumble, you
should immediately rise again, embrace forgiveness and renew your
endeavor to mortify your sins.

"By whose stripes ye were healed."

43. It seems as if Peter could not sufficiently exalt and make
impressive Christ's sufferings. He brings in nearly the entire
Fifty-third chapter of Isaiah in the attempt. Note how, in regard to
the efficacy of works, he always significantly introduces the two
themes at the same time--how he carefully distinguishes between
performing human works in obedience to Christ's example, and receiving
by faith the merit of Christ's work. First, we have, "Who his own self
bare our sins in his body upon the tree ... by whose stripes ye were
healed." This is the vital part in our salvation. Christ alone could
fully accomplish the work. This doctrine must be taught in its purity
and simplicity, and must so be believed, in opposition to the devil
and his factions. Only so can we maintain the honor and the office of
Christ wherein is anchored our salvation. But the second part of the
doctrine must not be overlooked. There are false Christians who accept
only the first part and make no effort to reform themselves; but,
being liberated from our sins and in a state of salvation, we may not
again defile ourselves therewith. Where these two principals of the
Christian doctrine are not maintained in their proper relation, injury
must result to the truth in two respects: they who are occupied solely
with their own works corrupt the true doctrine of faith; they who
neglect to follow the example of Christ retard the efficacy and fruit
of that faith.

"For ye were going astray like sheep."

44. Here Peter bluntly and clearly points out the fact I have stated,
that liberation from sin and death was effected not by our works and
merits, but by Christ's wounds and death alone. Forgiveness cost you
nothing, Peter teaches; no blood, no wounds. You were powerless in
this direction. You were but miserable, erring, lost sheep, separated
from God, condemned to hell and unable to council or help yourselves.
In just such condition are all they who are out of Christ. As Isaiah
the prophet says more plainly in the chapter from which these words
are taken (verse 6): "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have
turned every one to his own way." That is, whatever our lives,
whatever our intent, we but turned farther away from God. As it is
written (Ps 14, 3): "They are all gone aside; they are together become
filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one."

45. That men are prone to go astray like sheep is clearly exhibited in
their conduct; history proves it. It has ever been the case that when
mankind was divided into various idolatries or false services of God,
into superstitions numerous and varied, even when God's people thought
to have attained the perfection of holiness--then one ran here and
another there, ever seeking and seeking to come upon the road to
heaven but getting farther and farther from it. It was exactly the
case of the sheep straying from the flock and lost to the shepherd:
the farther it runs and the more it follows the voice of strangers,
the farther astray it goes. It continues to wander and to flee until
it finally perishes, unless it hears again the voice of the shepherd.
Let no one, then, dare boast of having himself found the right way to
heaven, of having merited God's grace and the remission of sins by his
own manner of life. All men must confess the truth of Scripture
testimony that we were but erring sheep, fleeing ever farther from our
Shepherd and Saviour, until he turned us back to himself.

"But are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls."

46. You have now heard the voice of your Shepherd, who has brought you
back to himself, from your erring and idolatrous ways. It was not your
own effort that effected your return; it was accomplished at the cost
of your Shepherd's wounds and shed blood. Be careful, then, Peter
would say, to live not like erring and lost sheep; but, being
converted--turned back--follow your beloved Saviour. In him you have a
godly Shepherd who faithfully pastures and cares for you; and also a
loyal Bishop who ever watches over and guards you, not permitting you
to stray.

47. Immeasurably gracious and comforting are these words. But the
meaning of the word "bishop" has been miserably obscured and perverted
by our idolatrous priests and episcopal frauds. Likewise have they
perverted and corrupted the terms "ecclesiasts," "Church," "divine
service," "priest," etc., by their antichristian rule. Only those have
right to the name "ecclesiast" who have been redeemed from their sins
through Christ's wounds, and who live holy lives. But the Papists have
taken the name away from true Christians and applied it to the Pope's
besmeared, and shaven-headed ones. Again, when we hear the word
"bishop" we think only of great, pointed caps and of silver staves. As
if it were sufficient to place in the Church such masks, such carved
and hewn idols! For they are nothing better; in fact, they do more
harm.

According to the Scriptures, a true bishop is an overseer, a guardian,
a watchman. He is like unto the householder, the warder of the city,
or any judicial officer or regent who exercises constant oversight of
state or municipal affairs. Formerly there were bishops in each
parish, deriving their name from the fact that their office required
oversight of the Church and the guarding against the devil, against
false doctrines and all manner of offenses. Paul, too (Acts 20, 28),
reminds the bishops of their office, saying: "Take heed unto
yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made
you bishops [overseers]." And overseers should bishops still be, as in
fact all godly preachers and carers for souls are. But in all Popedom
the office now is but a mere name, to the sin and shame of the entire
Christian Church.

48. Now, Christ our Lord is that faithful Guardian, that true Bishop,
who above all others is entitled to the name (with him office and name
are identical), and who bears it with due honor, to our eternal
happiness. For, standing at the right hand of God and showing his
wounds, he unceasingly intercedes for us before the Father; and
moreover, on earth he rules, sustains, nourishes and protects, through
his Word, his sacraments and the efficacy of the Holy Spirit, the
little flock that believe in him. Were he not present with and
watching over us here, the devil would long ago have overthrown and
destroyed us, and also the Word of God and the name of Christ. And
such is the case when God in wrath turns away his eyes from the world
to punish its ingratitude. Then immediately everything falls into the
devil's power. Therefore, pure doctrine, faith, confession and the use
of the sacraments are dependent for their perpetuity solely upon the
vigilant guardianship of our beloved Shepherd and Bishop.

49. Comforting, indeed, is it to have in Christ a priest so faithful
and righteous; though, alas, the worthy name of "priest" also has been
subjected to shame and contempt because of the Pope's disgraceful,
shaven, shallow-headed occupants of the office. Comforting, indeed, it
is to be the happy lambs who have a welcome refuge in the Shepherd and
find in him joy and comfort in every time of need, assured that his
perfect faithfulness cares for and protects us from the devil and the
gates of hell. Relative to this subject, the entire Twenty-third Psalm
is a beautiful and joyous song, of which the refrain is, "The Lord is
my Shepherd."



_Third Sunday After Easter_

Text: First Peter 2, 11-20.

11 Beloved, I beseech you as sojourners and pilgrims, to abstain from
fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 12 having your behavior
seemly among the Gentiles; that, wherein they speak against you as
evil-doers, they may by your good works, which they behold, glorify
God in the day of visitation.

13 Be subject to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether
to the king, as supreme; 14 or unto governors, as sent by him for
vengeance on evil-doers and for praise to them that do well. 15 For so
is the will of God, that by well-doing ye should put to silence the
ignorance of foolish men: 16 as free, and not using your freedom for a
cloak of wickedness, but as bondservants of God. 17 Honor all men.
Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.

18 Servants, be in subjection to your masters with all fear; not only
to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. 19 For this is
acceptable, if for conscience toward God a man endureth griefs,
suffering wrongfully. 20 For what glory is it, if, when ye sin, and
are buffeted for it, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do
well, and suffer for it, ye shall take it patiently, this is
acceptable with God.


OUR CHRISTIAN DUTIES.

1. This epistle selection, too, is an admonition to good works, or the
fruits of faith. It touches upon nearly every condition of life,
teaching how each individual should live and conduct himself. But
first, Peter admonishes Christians in general that in their
intercourse with gentiles, or the unbelieving world, they give no real
occasion for censure or reproach concerning their conduct. The
admonition seems to hinge upon the fact that Christians, as the
apostle reminds them in the first and second chapters, have been
called to a lively, a never-dying, hope of an imperishable inheritance
in heaven, and of eternal joy and salvation; that they are now
redeemed, having obtained remission of sins through the precious blood
of Christ; and again, that they are become a holy nation and royal
priesthood, to show forth and magnify the grace of God, they who in
time past were not God's people and had not obtained grace. "But now,"
Peter would say, "you have obtained grace through the divine calling
of Christ, through the suffering of your Lord. Live, then, as a holy
people of God and citizens of heaven."

2. We have already heard that in the Christian life are two essential
principles, two principles upon which Christian teachers may lay
emphasis. First, faith in the fact that through Christ's blood we are
released from sin and have forgiveness; second, being forgiven, our
natures are to be changed and we are to walk in newness of life. In
baptism, when we first believe, we obtain not only remission of sins
whereby we are of grace made children of God, but also the power to
purge out, to mortify, the remaining sins. Our transgressions are not
forgiven, Paul says (Rom 1, 6), with the privilege of continuing in
them, as the insolent rejecters of grace imagine. It is this way: Our
sins being blotted out through the blood of Christ, we need not to
make remuneration or render satisfaction for them; we are children of
grace and enjoy forgiveness. Nevertheless, inherent sin is not
entirely purged out, or mortified.


REMISSION AND MORTIFICATION DEFINED.

3. There is difference between remission of sins and mortification of
them. The distinction should be made clear for the sake of combating
those who confound and pervert the two principles by their false
doctrines. In regard to remission, the Pope and many others have
taught that forgiveness of sins is obtained through the foolishness of
men's own self-elected works, the satisfactions of their own devising.
This error has ever prevailed in the world. Cain was the first to make
it, and it will continue to the end. And where this error is refuted,
false teachers are found who, on the other hand, accept and boast of
the doctrine of grace without enjoying its happy results. They proceed
as if mere forgiveness were enough, and without further effect than
averting punishment; as if it leaves us where we were before, not
ameliorating in any wise our moral condition; and as if no more is to
be known about Christ and the Gospel.

Therefore, they who claim to be Christians must learn that, having
obtained forgiveness without merit on their part, they should
henceforth give no place to sins, but rather resist their former evil
lusts and avoid and flee from the fruits and works thereof. Such is
the substance of this lesson.

4. But note from the apostle's words how his view has changed since
the time when, as a fisherman of Bethsaida, he went about with the
Lord previous to the Lord's death and resurrection. At that time Peter
and the other apostles, in fact the entire Jewish nation, had no other
conception of Christ's kingdom--or the kingdom of God--than as an
earthly one wherein they should know only happiness, figuring as
wealthy farmers, citizens, noblemen, counts and lords. The sum of the
world's goods should be theirs, and all the gentiles their vassals.
They were to be thenceforth undisturbed by enemies, wars, famine or
misfortune, and to enjoy the extremity of peace, leisure and happiness
under their supreme King, the Messiah. Such were their hopes, even
their expectations. With these pleasing fancies were their minds
filled. And just so today are the Jews full and drunken with their
visionary dreams.


THE NATURE OF CHRIST'S KINGDOM.

5. Observe here, however, Peter teaches that the lot of the sharer in
Christ's kingdom is quite the reverse of what he once imagined. "O
beloved Christians," he would say, "who are called and baptized into
the royal and priestly kingdom of Christ, I have now to tell you
things quite different from the ideas and dreams you and I used to
entertain. We are, it is true, citizens, counts and lords in the
kingdom where Christ reigns supreme over all earthly kings and lords,
and where is only eternal riches, peace and happiness in every form;
but the life of that kingdom is unlike that of earthly kings and
dominions. You are not, be it known, lords and noblemen in a worldly
sense; neither is Christ a king as the world regards kingliness, and
the kingdom of the world is not in harmony with his. Know, then, you
must regard yourselves strangers and pilgrims in the kingdom of the
world.

"Therefore, I admonish you that, having now become
Christians--brothers in the eternal heavenly kingdom--your manner of
life should be such as becomes them who are no longer of a worldly
kingdom. Regard this earthly life only as the traveler or pilgrim
regards the country wherein he journeys, the inn where he procures a
night's lodging. He does not expect to remain in the city, to be mayor
or even a citizen. He finds there his food, but his thoughts are cast
beyond its gates, to the place where home is. So," Peter says, "must
you look upon your earthly course. You did not become Christians with
the prospect of reigning here on earth, as the Jews fancy they shall
reign and be established. The dwelling-place, the citizenship and the
authority of Christians are to be found in another direction, not in
this world. Therefore, think of yourselves as pilgrims on earth,
directing your attention toward other possessions and another country,
wherein you shall be lords forever, and where no discord nor
misfortune such as you must endure in this earthly harbor shall ever
enter."


CHRISTIAN USE OF THIS LIFE.

6. But how is indifference to this life to be accomplished? Peter goes
on to say: "Be subject to every ordinance of man ... whether to the
king ... or unto governors"; again, "Servants, be in subjection to
your masters ... also to the froward." How is it consistent with royal
citizenship in a celestial country to be a pilgrim on earth? How can
we live here with wives and children, houses and lands, and being
citizens under a temporal government, and yet not be at home? There is
a distinction here which, as before said, was at first difficult for
the beloved apostles themselves to understand. But to Christians,
especially those of today, it should be clear. Christ and the apostles
do not, in this teaching, design the rejection of external government
and human authority--what Peter here terms ordinances of men. No, they
permit these to remain as they are; moreover, they enjoin us to submit
to and make use of them.

7. This is the difference to be kept in mind: We are to conduct
ourselves in our earthly stations and occupations as not regarding
this life our true kingdom and best good. And we are not to think the
life beyond holds nothing more nor better than what we possess here,
as do the Jews and the Turks. Although they believe in the
resurrection of the dead, they carnally imagine the future life will
be like the present except for its perfect peace and happiness, its
freedom from misfortune, persecution and all ills. It is the
prerogative of the Pope and his holy epicures to believe nothing in
any respect.

Every Christian, be he lord or servant, prince or subject, should
conduct himself as befits his station, using in trust whatever God has
given him--dominion and subjects, house and home, wife and children,
money and property, meat and drink. He is to regard himself solely as
a guest of earth, as one eating his morsel of bread or taking his
lunch in an inn; he must conduct himself in this earthly harbor as a
pious guest. Thus may he actually be a king reigning with fidelity, or
a lord faithful to his office, and at the same time declare: "I count
nothing on this life. I do not expect to remain here. This is but a
strange country to me. True, I am seated in the uppermost place at
table in this inn; but the occupant of the lowest seat has just as
much as I, here or yonder. For we are alike guests. But he who
assigned my duty, whose command I execute, gave me orders to conduct
myself piously and honorably in this inn, as becomes a guest."

8. So should Christians in all stations of life--lords and ladies,
servants and maids--conduct themselves as guests of earth. Let them,
in that capacity, eat and drink, make use of clothing and shoes,
houses and lands, as long as God wills, yet be prepared to take up
their journey when these things pass, and to move on out of life as
the guest moves on out of the house or the city which is not his home.
Let them conduct themselves as does the guest, with civility toward
those with whom they come in contact, not infringing on the rights of
any. For a visitor may not unrestrainedly follow his own pleasure and
inclinations in the house of a stranger. The saying is: "If you would
be a guest, you must behave civilly; otherwise you may promptly be
shown the door or the dungeon."

9. Christians should be aware of their citizenship in a better
country, that they may rightly adapt themselves to this world. Let
them not occupy the present life as if intending to remain in it; nor
as do the monks, who flee responsibility, avoiding civil office and
trying to run out of the world. For Peter says rather that we are not
to escape our fellows and live each for himself, but to remain in our
several conditions in life, united with other mortals as God has bound
us, and serving one another. At the same time, we are to regard this
life as a journey through a country where we have no citizenship--where
we are not at home; to think of ourselves as travelers or pilgrims
occupying for a night the same inn, eating and drinking there and then
leaving the place.

10. Let not the occupants of the humbler stations--servants and
subjects--grumble: "Why should I vex myself with unpleasant household
tasks, with farm work or heavy labor? This life is not my home anyway,
and I may as well have it better. Therefore, I will abandon my station
and enjoy myself; the monks and priests have, in their stations,
withdrawn themselves from the world and yet drunk deeply, satisfying
fleshly lusts." No, this is not the right way. If you are unwilling to
put up with your lot, as the guest in a tavern and among strangers
must do, you also may not eat and drink.

Similarly, they who are favored with loftier positions in life may
not, upon this authority, abandon themselves to the idea of living in
the sheer idleness and lustful pleasure their more favored station
permits, as if they were to be here always. Let them reason thus:
"This life, it is true, is transitory--a voyage, a pilgrimage, leading
to our actual fatherland. But since it is God's will that everyone
should serve his fellows here in his respective station, in the office
committed to him, we will do whatever is enjoined upon us. We will
serve our subjects, our neighbors, our wives and children so long as
we can; we would not relax our service even if we knew we had to
depart this very hour and leave all earthly things. For, God be
praised, had we to die now we would know where we belong, where our
home is. While we are here, however, on the way, it is ours to fulfill
the obligations of our earthly citizenship. Therefore, we will live
with our fellows in obedience to the law of our abiding-place, even
unto the hour wherein we must cross the threshold outward, that we may
depart in honor, leaving no occasion for complaint."

11. Thus, mark you, should every Christian conduct himself here on
earth, according to Peter. In the first place, he should know where is
his real home, his fatherland. We learn this through faith in Christ,
whereby we become children of God, heirs of eternal life, citizens of
heaven. Accordingly, we sing: "Now we pray thee, Holy Spirit, for true
faith," etc., when we depart home from this wretchedness. This
sentiment accords beautifully with the text here where Peter calls us
"sojourners and pilgrims"--wayfarers in earthly wretchedness, desiring
home and casting our thoughts beyond the gates of our sojourning-place.
Second, though we must suffer this wretched condition in a foreign
land, we are under obligation to render every honor to the host and to
respect the inn, making the best of whatever may befall us.

12. The prophet Jeremiah found it necessary to give admonition of this
sort to his wretched Jewish countrymen in Babylon who longed
unspeakably to be home again and almost despaired because of having so
long to suffer misery among strangers when many of their brethren were
at home. Other prophets had encouraged them with the promise of soon
being returned. Consequently many of them ceased to till the land and
neglected to provide for a livelihood. To these Jeremiah writes (ch.
29, 10): "Ye must have patience, for ye are not so soon to return--not
till seventy years be accomplished." Meanwhile, though in wretchedness
and captivity, they were to do as he bids in verses 5-7: "Build ye
houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of
them. Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for
your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear
sons and daughters: and multiply ye there, and be not diminished. And
seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried
away captive, and pray unto Jehovah for it; for in the peace thereof
shall ye have peace."

That there in their misery they should build houses and make
themselves citizens of Babylon, should marry and rear children--yes,
give their children in marriage--as if they were to remain there
permanently--this injunction of the prophet was altogether
disagreeable and annoying to them. And still more offensive was the
command to pray for the city and kingdom wherein they were captives.
Much rather would they have prayed for liberation; for, influenced by
the other prophets, they hoped to return home the following year.

13. Now, how was it with them? The godly, faithful ones had reason to
hope and trust in release and a return to their own kingdom. Surely
there was no pleasure, no joy, for them in their present miserable
condition, as in Psalm 137 they testify and complain by the rivers of
Babylon. There they cried and wept and had not an hour of enjoyment
when they thought of home. The long seventy years their hearts
continually stood at the gate ready to depart, so that they had no
inclination whatever to build houses, to cultivate farms, to make
gardens, to take wives and rear children. Nevertheless, the prophet
bids them meet all the requirements of citizens of that country; and
more than that, to pray for their hosts in the same spirit in which
they would pray for their neighbors and fellow-citizens, asking God
for peace and prosperity upon the city.


CHRISTIANS SUBJECTS OF TWO KINGDOMS.

14. So, too, Christians are subjects of two kingdoms--they have
experience of two kinds of life. Here on earth where the world has its
home and its heavenly kingdom, we surely are not citizens. According
to Paul (Phil 3, 20), "our conversation"--our citizenship--"is with
Christ in heaven"; that is, in yonder life, the life we await. As the
Jews hoped to be released from Babylon, we hope to be released from
this present life and to go where we shall be lordly citizens forever.
But being obliged to continue in this wretched state--our Babylon--so
long as God wills, we should do as the Jews were commanded to
do--mingle with other mortals, eat and drink, make homes, till the
soil, fill civil offices and show good will toward our fellows, even
praying for them, until the hour arrives for us to depart unto our
home.

15. He who is guided by these facts, who comprehends the distinction
between the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of the world, will know
how to resist successfully all classes of fanatics. For these latter
paint this life in a terrible aspect. They want to run out of the
world entirely, and are unwilling to associate with anyone; or they
proceed to disturb civil regulations and to overthrow all order; or
again, as with the Pope, they interfere in secular rule, desiring
temporal authority, wholly under the name and color of Christianity.

Having as Christians forgiveness of sins, and being now people of God,
children of his kingdom, citizens no longer of Babylon but of heaven,
let us know that during the period of our sojourn here among
strangers, it is ours to live righteously, honorably and chastely, to
further civil and domestic peace and to lend counsel and aid to
benefit even the wicked and ungrateful, meanwhile constantly striving
after our inheritance and keeping in mind the kingdom whither we are
bound.

16. In short, a Christian must be one who, as Paul says (1 Cor 7,
29-31), uses this world as not abusing it, who buys and possesses as
though he possessed not, who has wife and children as though he had
them not and who builds as though not building. How is it possible to
reconcile these seeming inconsistencies? By making the Christian faith
distinct from the faith of the Jews and Turks--yes, of the Papists
even: by accepting the fact that the Christian's attitude toward this
earthly life is the attitude of the guest; that in such capacity is he
to build, to buy, to have dealings and hold intercourse with his
fellows, to join them in all temporal affairs--a guest who respects
his host's wishes, the laws of the realm and of the city and the
customs of the inn, but at the same time the Christian refrains from
attesting his satisfaction with this life as if he intended to remain
here and hoped for nothing better. Thus will the Christian pass
through every temporal event in the right way--having every possession
as though not having it, using and yet not cleaving to it; not so
occupied with the temporal as to lose the eternal, but leaving
behind--forgetting--the former while striving after the latter as the
goal set before him.

17. Therefore, they who presume to run out of the world by going into
the desert or the wilderness; who, unwilling to occupy the inn but
finding it indispensable nevertheless, must become their own
hosts--these are great and unreasonable fools. Surely they must eat
and drink and have clothing and shelter. With these things they cannot
dispense, even if they can withdraw from all society. Nor is their
action forsaking and fleeing the world, as they imagine it to be.
Whatever your station and condition, whatever your occupation in life,
of necessity you must be somewhere on earth while mortal life is
yours. Nor has God separated you from men; he has placed you in
society. Each individual is created and born for the sake of other
individuals. But observe, wherever you are and whatever your station,
you are, I say, to flee the world.


HOW TO ESCAPE THE WORLD.

18. But how are we to flee the world? Not by donning caps and creeping
into a corner or going into the wilderness. You cannot so escape the
devil and sin. Satan will as easily find you in the wilderness in a
gray cap as he will in the market in a red coat. It is the heart which
must flee, and that by keeping itself "unspotted from the world," as
James 1, 27 says. In other words, you must not cling to temporal
things, but be guided by the doctrine of faith in Christ, and await
the eternal, heavenly inheritance; and in that faith and that hope are
you to execute the trust and work committed to you here, declaring the
while: "That which I do here is not the chief good, the thing of real
value, for which I live; though such is the case with the world, the
Jews, the Turks and the Papists. I hold this temporal life as a
tavern, valuing it no more than the guest values the inn where he
enjoys food and lodging, while heart and mind turn ever to his own
home."

What tolerance would there be for one foolish enough to declare: "I
will not eat nor drink here. I will behave peculiarly, smashing
windows and turning things upside down, for this is not my
abiding-place"? For the very purpose of advancing himself on his
journey, the traveler should make use of the inn, accepting whatever
is offered.

19. Likewise should Christians use the world, constantly casting their
thoughts beyond this life, notwithstanding they have here house and
home, wife and children. These are for the present life only, yet the
Christian owes them due consideration, the while he asserts: "Today we
are here, tomorrow elsewhere. Now we avail ourselves of this inn, the
next day of another. We do not expect to remain here."

Relative to this subject, Peter in his beautiful Pentecostal sermon
says concerning David, who nevertheless was a holy king, that he did
not ascend into the heavens, but, having fulfilled the will of God,
fell asleep. Peter, so far from being willing to disparage David's
office and rule, to criticise him therein for wrong-doing, rather
magnifies it in glowing terms. David was a king, and cast not aside
his crown; no, he retained his royal glory. He held his office as a
God-intrusted one, in the execution whereof he served God. Similarly
should the righteous ruler do--in fact, all men in their respective
offices and stations. Let them remember they are not placed where they
are to choose their own pleasure, but solely for the service of God.
Such is their duty so long as they are here--transients, like the
stranger at the inn with other guests, who conducts himself with
respect to the needs and the pleasure of his fellows, doing as they
do, and in case of danger and necessity uniting with them in the
effort to help and protect.

20. King David did not regard his kingdom and his God-bestowed
blessings as his real glory, but as his office, his opportunities for
service in this earthly pilgrimage. In it all he remains a guest,
expecting to leave this tarrying-place for a certain abode. Hence he
says (Ps 39, 12): "I am a stranger with thee, a sojourner, as all my
fathers were." How is that? Has a king of David's glorious rank
occasion to speak thus? Is he a guest who occupies a royal throne, who
is lord of landed estate and of more than twelve hundred thousand
people according to his own calculation? This is David's meaning: In
his kingdom he serves God as a transient here on earth, and set apart
by God for that purpose; but at the same time as a citizen of God's
kingdom in another life, another existence, which he regards more
glorious than earthly glory, and as affording something better than a
temporal crown.


REASONS TO ABSTAIN FROM CARNAL LUST.

21. Such is Peter's teaching. He admonishes Christians to Christlike
lives and works in view of the fact that they are called to great
glory, having become through Christ a royal priesthood, a people of
God and citizens of heaven. He would have them occupy this temporal
world as guests, striving after another and eternal kingdom; that is,
to abstain from all carnal lusts and maintain a blameless walk, a life
of good works. The apostle assigns two reasons for such self-denial:
First, that we may not, through carnal, lustful habits, lose the
spiritual and eternal; second, that God's name and the glory we have
in Christ may not be slandered among our heathen adversaries, but
rather, because of our good works, honored. These are the chief
reasons for doing good works. They ought most forcibly to urge us to
the performance of our duties.

22. Peter admonishes, first, to "abstain from fleshly lusts, which war
against the soul." He implies that if we do not resist carnal
inclinations, but rather follow them, we shall lose our priceless
eternal inheritance. To be a stranger on earth, striving after another
and better life, is inconsistent with living in fleshly lusts as if
one's sole intent was to remain in the world forever. If you would
have the things of one life, Peter says, you must forsake the things
of the other. If you forget your fatherland and lie drunken with this
carnal life, as does the heathen world in living in unbelief and
without hope of eternal life, you will never reach yonder existence;
for so you reject it.

It is necessary to strive if we are to withstand the lusts of the
flesh; for these, Peter says, war against the soul--against faith and
the good conscience in man. If lust triumphs, our hold on the Spirit
and on faith is lost. Now, if you would not be defeated, you must
valiantly contend against carnal inclinations, being careful to
overcome them and to maintain your spiritual, eternal good. In this
instance, our own welfare demands the conquest.

23. In the second place, God's honor calls for it. God's honor here on
earth is affected by our manner of life. We are to avoid giving
occasion for our enemies to open their mouths in calumniation of God's
name and his Word. Rather must we magnify the name of God by our
confession and general conduct, and thus win others, who shall with us
confess and honor him. Christ commands (Mt 5, 16): "Even so let your
light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify
your Father who is in heaven."

24. Peter proceeds to enumerate certain good works appropriate to
Christians in all stations of life, particularly those Christians
under authority, or in a state of servitude--men-servants and
maid-servants. In the apostle's day, Christians had to submit to
heathen authority--to serve unbelieving masters. Peter admonishes
Christians to glorify God by their conduct, patiently bearing the
violence and injustice offered, and forbearing to return evil; as we
heard in the epistle lesson for the preceding Sunday which follows
today's text. But to take up all the good works Peter enumerates here
would require too much time at present.



_Third Sunday After Easter_
Second Sermon.

Text: First Corinthians 15, 20-28.

20 But now hath Christ been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of
them that are asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also
the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in
Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ
the firstfruits; then they that are Christ's, at his coming. 24 Then
cometh the end, when he shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the
Father; when he shall have abolished all rule and all authority and
power. 25 For he must reign, till he hath put all his enemies under
his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be abolished is death. 27 For,
He put all things in subjection under his feet. But when he saith, All
things are put in subjection, it is evident that he is excepted who
did subject all things unto him. 28 And when all things have been
subjected unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subjected to
him that did subject all things unto him, that God may be all in all.


We have no desire to reject the Sunday epistle readings in common use
up to this time, particularly as some of them are excellent and
profitable; nevertheless, a different order and selection might well
have been made. For portions have been taken from James for the two
Sundays following, the intent of the compilers having been to choose
something from each of the apostles, among whom they regarded James
one of the chief. These selections, however, seem not to have been
written by an apostle; they do not at all compare with the selections
from the other apostles. It were better for the instruction and
comfort of the people, and as befitting this season, to handle the
article of the resurrection--concerning the resurrection of both
Christ and ourselves, or of all the dead--between Easter and
Pentecost. It seems appropriate so to do, making selections from the
preaching of the apostles; for instance, the entire fifteenth chapter
of Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians, which treats throughout of
the resurrection of the dead. Therefore, we shall arrange this chapter
to the present and following Sundays. It is our intent to so use it
hereafter, and they who feel disposed may adopt it likewise. But it is
not our purpose in so doing to restrict those who prefer the old
arrangement. The entire fifteenth chapter, however, being amply
explained in special sermons, we would advise everyone to read those
expositions.



_Fourth Sunday After Easter_

Text: First Corinthians 15, 35-50.

35 But some one will say, How are the dead raised? and with what
manner of body do they come? 36 Thou foolish one, that which thou
thyself sowest is not quickened except it die: 37 and that which thou
sowest, thou sowest not the body that shall be, but a bare grain, it
may chance of wheat, or of some other kind; 38 but God giveth it a
body even as it pleased him, and to each seed a body of its own. 39
All flesh is not the same flesh; but there is one flesh of men, and
another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of
fishes. 40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial;
but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the
terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another
glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star
differeth from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection
of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
43 it is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in
weakness; it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body; it is
raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a
spiritual body. 45 So also it is written, The first man Adam became a
living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 Howbeit
that is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; then
that which is spiritual. 47 The first man is of the earth, earthy; the
second man is of heaven. 48 As is the earthy, such are they also that
are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are
heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy we shall
also bear the image of the heavenly.

50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the
kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.


This selection follows immediately after the one we have arranged for
the preceding Sunday, concerning the resurrection of the dead. In the
text Paul deals with the question, How are the dead raised, and with
what body do they come? This passage likewise is treated fully enough
in the sermons on the fifteenth chapter, and they who desire may read
those discourses; they are too lengthy to insert here.

The selection from the first chapter of James, however, having
commonly been read for this Sunday, and as it contains good
instruction and admonition, we will, for the sake of some who may
desire to retain it, allow it to remain; and we will make some
explanation of it lest we be thought to desire its rejection
altogether. It was not, however, written by an apostle. It does not
bear the apostolic stamp in all particulars, and is not in every
respect compatible with the true doctrine.



_Fourth Sunday After Easter_
Second Sermon.[1]

Text: James 1, 16-21.

16 Be not deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every
perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights,
with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning.
18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we
should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

19 Ye know this, my beloved brethren. But let every man be swift to
hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: 20 for the wrath of man worketh
not the righteousness of God. 21 Wherefore putting away all filthiness
and overflowing of wickedness, receive with meekness the implanted
word, which is able to save your souls.

[Footnote 1: This sermon was printed first in the "Two Sermons on
Anger," by Luther, Wittenberg, 1536.]


1. This lesson was addressed to all Christians. Particularly was it
meant for the time when they had to endure from the unbelieving world
persecutions severe and oft; as James indicates at the outset, where
he says (verses 2-4): "Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall
into manifold temptations; knowing that the proving of your faith
worketh patience. And let patience have its perfect work, that ye may
be perfect and entire." Again (verse 12): "Blessed is the man that
endureth temptation."


WHY MEN REJECT THE GOSPEL.

2. Two things there are which part men from the Gospel: one is angry
impatience, and the other evil lust. Of these James speaks in this
epistle. The former sin, he says, arises under persecution--when for
the sake of Christ the Lord you must give up property and honor, and
risk body and life; must be regarded as fools, as the drudges, yes,
the footstool, of the world. Painful and intolerable to the point of
discouragement and weariness is such a lot, particularly when it is
apparent that your persecutors enjoy good fortune, having honor, power
and wealth, while you suffer constantly. Peter, too, admonishes (1 Pet
3, 10), upon authority of Psalm 34, 12-14: He who would be a Christian
must be prepared to avoid evil and do good, to seek peace, to refrain
his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile, and must commit
himself to God.

In the case of a great many people otherwise favorably disposed toward
the Gospel, it is nothing but persecution which deters and repels them
from it. They cannot endure the injuries and reproaches they must
suffer for its sake. But for the precious holy cross which is laid
upon Christians, and their inability to overcome indignation and
impatience, the world would long ago have been crowded with
Christians. But on account of trials men recoil, saying: "Rather than
endure these, I will remain with the majority; as it is with them, so
be it with me."

3. The second thing to which James refers is worldly
lust--"filthiness," as James terms it. This, too, is a prevailing
evil, particularly with the common people. When they once hear the
Gospel they are prone to think right away that they know all about it.
They cease to heed it and drown in lust, pride and covetousness of the
world, being concerned entirely with accumulating wealth and seeking
pleasure.

4. That these two evils prevail is apparent to the eyes of all men
today. We fear that we shall fare no better than the prophets and the
apostles; these things are likely to continue. Nevertheless, we must
unceasingly exert ourselves in behalf of ourselves and others to guard
diligently against both these evils. Particularly must we not
impatiently murmur and rage against God; we must also show meekness
toward our fellowmen, to the end that wrath everywhere may be quelled
and subdued, and only patience and meekness reign among Christians.

5. As I said before, such seems to be the trend of the whole text. The
apostle gives a reason why we should be patient to the extent of not
allowing ourselves to be vexed with them who injure us, especially
ungrateful rejecters of the Word of God or persecutors of Christians.
The reason he assigns is the debt of gratitude we owe: we are to
remember the great good we receive from God in heaven--"Every good
gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father
of lights."


OUR BLESSINGS OUTWEIGH OUR ILLS.

6. If you carefully balance our gifts and trials against each other
and weigh them carefully, you will find the blessings conferred upon
you so numerous and rich as far to outweigh the injuries and
reproaches you must incur. Therefore, if you are assailed by the
world, and are provoked to impatience by ingratitude, contempt and
persecution, compare with your trials the blessings and consolations
you have in Christ and his Gospel. You will soon find you have more
reason to pity your enemies than you have to murmur and to rage
against them.

7. Again, concerning them who live in worldly lusts--in "filthiness,"
as the apostle terms it: let not their conduct induce you to forsake
the Gospel to be like them; for their portion is altogether paltry in
comparison with your glorious blessings and divine riches. Take
thought, then, and do not allow yourselves to be misled either by the
wanton wickedness of the world, through the injury and pain it may
inflict, or by the prosperity of the world's wealthy, who live
riotously in all manner of voluptuousness. Look upon what you have
from the Father in comparison--his divine blessings, his perfect
gifts.

8. For the sake of distinction, we shall designate by "good gifts" the
blessings we enjoy here in this life; by "perfect gifts" those
awaiting us in the life to come. James implies this distinction when
he says: "Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth,
that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures." In the
terms "good gifts" and "perfect gifts," the apostle comprehends all
our blessings, those we have already received in the present life and
those to be ours in the life to come.

9. I will not now speak particularly of earthly, transient and
changeable blessings, such as temporal goods, honor, a healthy body
and others, but could we only compare our blessings with these and
weigh our treasures and surpassing blessings, we should presently
conclude that ours transcend in value a hundred thousand times
anything the world possesses and boasts. Many individuals there are
who would give thousands of dollars to have the sight of both eyes. So
much do they prize the blessing of sight, they would willingly suffer
a year's illness or endure other great inconveniences to obtain it.
Less sensible would they be to such discomforts than to the
deprivation of the thing they desire.

Of physical blessings particularly, we shall not now speak, however,
save to mention that they are never equaled by physical ills. Who can
purchase or merit, even by enduring tenfold his present physical ills,
the very least of God's gifts; as, for instance, the beholding of the
light of the beautiful sun for a single day? And so long as mortal
life itself remains, you have the greatest of blessings, one
outweighing far all gold and silver and all the misfortunes you may
endure.


OUR BLESSINGS IN CHRIST'S RESURRECTION.

But we shall speak now particularly of the blessings we have in
Christ's resurrection, a subject appropriate to this Paschal season.
The text says, Every good gift and every perfect gift cometh down from
the Father of lights. For God has begun the work of edifying us, of
building us up, and will constitute us his own children, his heirs.
This work, James says, is wrought through the Gospel, or "the word of
truth," as he terms it.

10. But what does the resurrection advantage us? It has already
brought us this gain: our hearts are enlightened and filled with joy,
and we have passed from the darkness of sin, error and fear into the
clear light; the Christian is able to judge all sects, all doctrines
of devils, that may arise on earth. Is it not a thing of unspeakable
value, a precious gift, to be enlightened and taught of God to the
extent of being able to judge correctly every doctrine and every kind
of conduct exhibited in this world, and to show all men how to
live--what to do and what to avoid? Well may we boast, then, of having
here on earth also a Father--"the Father of lights"--from whom we
receive blessings of such magnitude that man should willingly yield
body and life for their attainment.

What would I in my darkness not have given to be liberated from the
very dread which prompted the celebration of masses and other
abominations, yes, from the torture and anguish of conscience which
left me no rest? or to have instruction enabling me rightly to
interpret a single psalm? I would, for such enlightenment, readily
have crawled on the ground to the ends of the earth. Thank God, we now
have the blessed treasure abundantly, the great and precious light,
the gracious Word. What is the sum of all suffering and misfortune
compared to this light?

11. Secondly, through Christ's resurrection we have a good, joyous
conscience, one able to withstand every form of sin and temptation and
to maintain a sure hope of eternal life. The great, glorious gifts and
blessings of the resurrection are these: the Gospel, Holy Baptism, the
power of the Holy Spirit, and comfort in all adversity. What is a
slight injury or the loss of some temporal blessing in comparison with
these? What reason has any man to murmur and to rage when such divine
blessings are his, even here in this life, blessings which none can
take away or abridge?

If, then, you are called to renounce money, possessions, honor and
men's favor, remember you have a treasure more precious than all the
honors and all the possessions of the world. Again, when you see one
living in great splendor, in pleasure and presumption, following his
own inclinations, think thus: "What has he? A wretched portion, a
beggarly morsel. In contrast, I have divine grace enabling me to know
God's will and the work he would have me do, and all in heaven and on
earth is mine." Look, says James, upon the treasure already obtained
from the Father of lights--his great and glorious gifts.

12. But these do not represent the consummation of resurrection
blessings. We must yet await the real, the perfect, gifts. Our earthly
condition does not admit of perfection; hence we cannot truly
perceive, cannot comprehend, our treasure. We are but "a kind of
first-fruits of his creatures." God has only commenced to work in us,
but he will not leave us in that state. If we continue in faith, not
allowing ourselves to be turned away through wrath and impatience, God
will bring us to the real, eternal blessings, called "perfect gifts,"
the possession of which excludes error, stumbling, anger, and any sin
whatever.


THE FUTURE LIFE OF BLESSEDNESS.

13. That future existence, James goes on to say, will be one wherein
is "no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning"--no
alternating of light and darkness. In other words, there will not be
the variation and instability characteristic of this world, even of
the Christian life--today joyous, tomorrow sad; now standing but soon
tottering. It is in the Christian life just as in the physical world:
we find variableness and continual change--light is succeeded by
darkness, day by night, cold by heat; here are mountains, there
valleys; today we are well, tomorrow ill; and so it goes. But all this
change shall be abolished. The present life shall be succeeded by one
wherein is no variation, but a permanence and eternity of blessing. We
shall unceasingly behold God in his majesty where dwells no darkness,
no death, plague nor infirmity, but pure light, joy and happiness.
Look to this future life! call it to mind, when assailed by the world
and enticed to anger or evil lust. Remember the great blessings of
heaven assuredly promised you, and whereof Christ your Head has
already taken possession, that he may make sure your entrance into the
same blessings. These should be to you far more precious and desirable
than the things of earth, which all men must leave behind.

14. To these things the Christian should direct his thoughts and
efforts, that he may learn to prize his blessings, to recognize his
treasures as great and glorious, and to thank God for the beginnings
of his grace and blessing bestowed here below. Let us ever look and
turn toward true knowledge and understanding, toward righteousness and
life; so shall we attain that perfection wherein we are freed from the
present imperfect, unstable existence, the yoke we now bear upon our
necks and which continually weighs upon us and renders us liable to
fall from the Gospel.

Impulse and aid for such pursuit we are to receive from the holy cross
and persecution, as well as from the example of the world. With what
ease the poor, wretched people are wrested from the Word and from
faith, wherein they might enjoy unspeakable grace and blessings, by
the sordid, beggarly pleasures to be sought for here!

15. Therefore, James says: "Why trouble yourselves about earthly
blessings, which though God-given are transitory? Why not much rather
rejoice in the comforting prospect of the great heavenly blessings
already abundantly yours and which cannot be taken from you?" And by
way of explanation he says further: "Of his own will he brought us
forth by the word of truth."


GOD'S CHILDREN BEGOTTEN BY THE WORD.

16. The first, and in fact the best, thing Christ has sent us from on
high is sonship. He brought us forth, made us his children, or heirs.
We are truly called children born of God. But how are we born? Through
"the Word of truth," or the true Word. By this statement James makes a
wide thrust at all factions and sects. For they also have a word and
boast much of their doctrine, but theirs is not the Word of truth
whereby men are made children of God. They teach naught, and know
naught, about how we are to be born God's children through faith. They
prate much about the works done by us in the state derived from Adam.

But we have a Word whereby, as we are assured, God makes us his
beloved children and justifies us--if we believe in that Word. He
justifies us not through works or laws. The Christian must derive his
sonship from his birth. All whittling and patching is to no purpose.
The disciples of Moses, and all work-mongers, would effect it by
commandments, extorting a work here and a work there, effecting
nothing. New beings are needed, children of God by birth, as John 1,
12 says.

17. The children of God, John tells us, are they who believe on the
name of Christ; that is, who sincerely cling to the Word. John extols
the Word as the great, the mighty, gift. They are children who cleave
to the message that through Christ God forgives their sins and
receives them into his favor; who adhere to this promise in all
temptations, afflictions and troubles. The Word here on earth is the
jewel which secures sonship. Now, since God has so greatly blessed you
as to make you his own begotten children, shall he not also give you
every other good?

18. Whence, then, do you derive sonship? Not from your own will, not
from your own powers or efforts. Were it so, I and other monks surely
should have obtained it, independently of the Word; it would have been
ours through the numerous works we performed in our monastic life. It
is secured, James says, "of his will." For it never entered into the
thought of any man that so should we be made children of God. The idea
did not grow in our gardens; it did not spring up in our wells. But it
came down from above, "from the Father of lights," by Word and Spirit
revealed to us and given into our hearts through the agency of his
apostles and their successors, by whom the Word has been transmitted
to us. Hence we did not secure it through our efforts or merits. Of
his Fatherly will and good pleasure was it conferred upon us; of pure
grace and mercy he gave it.


CHRISTIANS THE FIRST-FRUITS.

19. James says, "That we should be a kind of first-fruits of his
creatures"; that is, the newly-begun creature, or work, of God. By
this phrase the apostle distinguishes the creatures of God from the
creatures of the world, or creatures of men. Likewise does Peter when
he says (1 Pet 2, 13), "Be subject to every ordinance [or creature] of
man"; that is, to everything commanded, ordained, instituted, made, by
men. For instance, a prince constitutes men tax-gatherers, squires,
secretaries, or anything he desires, within the limits of his power.

But new creatures are found with God. They are styled "creatures of
God" because he has created them as his own work, independently of
human effort or human power. And so the Christian is called a "new
creature of God," a creature God himself has made, aside from all
other creatures and higher than they. At the same time, such creation
of God is only in its initial stage. He still daily operates upon it
until it becomes perfect, a wholly divine creature, as the very sun in
clearness and purity, without sin and imperfection, all aglow with
love divine.

20. Take into careful consideration these facts. Keep before you the
great blessing, honor and glory God has conferred upon you in making
you heirs of the life to come, the life wherein shall be no
imperfection nor variation, the life which shall be an existence in
divine purity and protection like God's own. Do not, then, by any
means allow yourselves to be provoked to anger by the wretched,
sordid, beggar's wallet which the world craves. Rather, much rather,
rejoice in the divine blessings, and thank God for having made you
worthy of them. Whether sweet or bitter--in comparison with these let
everything else be spurned. "For I reckon that the sufferings of this
present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall
be revealed to us-ward"--to us the children of God--says Paul in
Romans 8, 18.


IMPATIENT ANGER FORBIDDEN.

21. So James draws the conclusion: "Let every man be swift to hear,
slow to speak, slow to wrath." In other words, in receiving counsel or
comfort be swift; but do not permit yourselves readily to criticise,
curse, or upbraid God or men. James does not mean to prohibit reproof,
censure, indignation and correction where the command of God or
necessity requires; but he forbids rashness or hastiness on our part,
despite our provocation in the premises. When we are provoked we
should first hear what the Word of God says and be advised thereby. It
is the right and true counsel, and we should ever permit ourselves to
be led by it; according to its teaching should all our decisions,
reproofs and censures be regulated. In immediate connection, James
bids us receive the Word with meekness; we are not to be incensed when
censured by its authority, or to become impatient and murmur when we
have to suffer something because of it.

The reason James assigns for restraining our anger is: "For the wrath
of man worketh not the righteousness of God." This is a truth admitted
even by the heathen--"Ira furor brevis est," etc.--and verified by
experience. Therefore, upon authority of Psalm 4, 4, when you feel
your wrath rising, sin not, but go to your chamber and commune with
yourself. Let not wrath take you by surprise and cause you to yield to
it. When slander and reproach is heaped upon you, or curses given, do
not rashly allow yourself to be immediately inflamed with anger.
Rather, take heed to overcome the provocation and not to respond to
it.

22. The apostle's first point, then, is: Christians should guard
against yielding to wrath and impatience, and should remember the
great blessings they enjoy--gifts wherewith all the advantages and
favors of the world are unworthy of comparison.

23. Similarly, James says regarding the other point: "Wherefore
putting away all filthiness and overflowing of wickedness," etc. By
"filthiness" he means the impure life of the world--indulgence,
voluptuousness and knavery of every sort. These things, he would say,
should be far from you Christians who enjoy blessings so great and
glorious. Could you rightly recognize and appreciate these blessings,
you would regard all worldly pursuits and pleasures mere filth in
comparison. Nor is this overdrawn; they are such when contrasted with
the good and perfect heavenly gifts and treasures.

24. "Receive with meekness the implanted word." You have the Word,
James says, a Word which is yours not by your own fancy or effort, but
which God, by grace, gave to you--implanted in you. It has free
course--is preached, read and sung among you. (By the grace of God, it
is free among us, too.) In this respect, God be praised, there is no
lack. It is of the utmost importance, however, to receive it, to make
profitable use of it; to handle it with meekness that we may hold it
fast and not allow it to be effaced by anger under persecution or by
the allurements of worldly lusts. Christ says (Lk 21, 19), "In your
patience possess ye your souls [ye shall win your souls]."


MEEKNESS AND PATIENCE ENJOINED.

Meekness and patience are necessary to enable us to triumph over the
devil and the world. Without them we shall not be able to hold fast
the Word in our strife against those evil forces. We must fight and
contend against sin, but if we essay to cool our wrath by grasping the
devil and his followers by the hair and wreaking vengeance upon them,
we will accomplish nothing and may thereby lose our treasure, the
beloved Word. Therefore, lay hold of the Word planted or engrafted
within you, that you may be able to retain it and have it bring forth
its fruit in yourself.


THE POWER OF THE WORD.

25. It is a Word, says James in conclusion, "which is able to save
your souls." What more could be desired? You have the Word, the
promise of all divine blessings and gifts. It is able to save you if
you but steadfastly cleave to it. Why, then, need you take any account
of the world, and anything it may do, whether good or evil? What
injury can the world render, what help can it offer, so long as you
hold the treasure of the Word? Observe that the apostle ascribes to
the spoken Word, the preached Gospel, the power to save souls.
Similarly, Paul commends it to the Romans (ch. 1, 16), in almost the
same words, as "the power of God unto salvation to every one that
believeth."

26. Now, the Word is implanted within you in a way to give you the
certain comfort and sure hope of your salvation. Be careful, then, not
to permit yourselves to be wrested from it by the wrath or the filth
of the world. Take heed to accept in purity and to maintain with
patience the Word so graciously and richly given you by God without
effort or merit on your part. Those who are without the Word, and yet
endeavor to attain heaven, what efforts have they made in the past!
what efforts are they making today! They might torment themselves to
death; they might institute and celebrate every possible service--they
would accomplish nothing. Is it not better to cling to the Word and
maintain this treasure whereby you attain salvation and divine sonship
than to permit the world to wrest you from it through persecution,
passion or moral filth the source of its own ruin and perdition?



_Fifth Sunday After Easter_

Text: First Corinthians 15, 51-58.

51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We all shall not sleep, but we shall
all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the
last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised
incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must
put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 But
when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal
shall have put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that
is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy
victory? O death, where is thy sting? 56 The sting of death is sin;
and the power of sin is the law: 57 but thanks be to God, who giveth
us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Wherefore, my beloved
brethren, be ye stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of
the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not vain in the
Lord.


You will find this lesson explained in the special sermons on the same
chapter.



_Ascension Day_

Text: Acts 1, 1-11.

1 The former treatise I made, O Theophilus, concerning all that Jesus
began both to do and to teach, 2 until the day in which he was
received up, after that he had given commandment through the Holy
Spirit unto the apostles whom he had chosen: 3 to whom he also showed
himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing unto them by
the space of forty days, and speaking the things concerning the
kingdom of God: 4 and being assembled together with them, he charged
them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the
Father, which, said he, ye heard from me: 5 for John indeed baptized
with water; but ye shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days
hence.

6 They therefore, when they were come together, asked him, saying,
Lord, dost thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? 7 And he
said unto them, It is not for you to know times or seasons, which the
Father hath set within his own authority. 8 But ye shall receive
power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be my
witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and unto
the uttermost part of the earth. 9 And when he had said these things,
as they were looking, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of
their sight. 10 And while they were looking stedfastly into heaven as
he went, behold two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 who also
said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye looking into heaven? this Jesus,
who was received up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner
as ye beheld him going into heaven.


This epistle text is simply a narrative concerning the visible
ascension of Christ into heaven. It is in itself clear. Whatever it
may be necessary to say relative to the article of Christ's ascension,
we shall leave for the sermons on the Festivals of Christ as they
occur at intervals during the year, at which times it is fitting to
speak particularly of each article concerning Christ.



_Sunday After Ascension Day_

Text: First Peter 4, 7-11.[1]

7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore of sound mind,
and be sober unto prayer: 8 above all things being fervent in your
love among yourselves: for love covereth a multitude of sins: 9 using
hospitality one to another without murmuring: 10 according as each
hath received a gift, ministering it among yourselves, as good
stewards of the manifold grace of God; 11 if any man speaketh,
speaking as it were oracles of God; if any man ministereth,
ministering as of the strength which God supplieth: that in all things
God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, whose is the glory and the
dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

[Footnote 1: This sermon appeared as early as 1525 in pamphlet form.]


EXHORTATION TO CHRISTIAN LIVING.

1. This text, too, is an admonition to Christian living, a discourse
concerning the fruits of a good tree, a figure applied to the
Christian; in other words, concerning the fruits of the one who,
through faith, has obtained redemption from sin and death and has a
place in the kingdom of grace and of eternal life. Such a one is
exhorted to live henceforth in a manner indicative of the fact that he
has apprehended the treasure of salvation and is become a new man.


EXHORTATION TO SOBERNESS.

2. Certain good works are also introduced, and in the first part of
our text Peter makes an especially emphatic continuation of the
admonition in the foregoing part of the chapter, warning Christians to
abstain from gross vices--carnal lusts--which in the world lead to
obscenity, and from the wild, disorderly, swinish lives of the heathen
world, lives of gormandizing, guzzling and drunkenness. Peter
admonishes Christians to endeavor to be "sober unto prayer." The
epistle was written chiefly to the Greeks, the masses of which people
were very social, and inclined to carouse and gormandize. And we
Germans are accused of the same excess; not without some reason
either.

3. With intent to turn Christians from these vices unto temperance and
sobriety, Peter reminds them, as all the apostles are wont to do, of
the obligations particularly incident to the Christian calling, to the
only true, divine service, the things for the sake of which they have
become Christians and which distinguish them from the remainder of the
world. His meaning is: It is not for Christians to lead lives
heathenish, profligate and riotous; to indulge in gormandizing,
guzzling, carousing and demoralizing of themselves. They have
something nobler to do. First, in that they are to become different
beings, and be occupied with the Word of God wherefrom they derive
their new birth and whereby they preserve it. Second, being born anew,
they have enemies to fight; so long as they live on earth, they must
combat the devil, also their own flesh, which is corrupted by the
devil until it is full of evil lusts. Having, then, to assume the
obligations of this calling and contest, they must not give way to
drowsy indolence; much less may they become foolish, drunken sots,
indifferent to all issues and heedless of their obligations. Rather,
they have need to be watchful and sober, ever ready with the Word of
God and with prayer.

4. These are the two kinds of armor, two weapons of defense, whereby
the devil is vanquished and of which he is afraid: First, diligence in
hearing, learning and practicing the Word of God, that instruction,
comfort and strength may be received; second, sincere petitioning upon
the authority of that Word, a crying and calling to God for help when
temptations and conflicts arise. One or the other of these weapons of
defense must continually be in active exercise, effecting perpetual
intercourse between God and man--either God speaking to us while we
quietly listen, or God hearing our utterances to him and our petitions
concerning our needs.

Whichever the weapon we wield, it is unendurable to the devil; he
cannot abide it. Christians need both equipments, that their hearts
may ever turn to God, cleave to his Word, and continually, with
ceaseless longing, pray a perpetual Lord's Prayer. Truly, the
Christian should learn from the temptations and straits wherewith the
devil, the world and the flesh constantly oppress him, to be ever on
his guard, watching for the enemy's point of attack; for the enemy
sleeps not nor rests a single moment.

5. Here is applicable Peter's injunction for the Christian to keep
within the bounds of physical temperance and sobriety; not to overload
the body and injure it by excessive eating and drinking: so as to be
watchful, intelligent, and in a mood, to pray. He who is not careful
to discharge the obligations of his office or station with temperance
and sobriety, but is daily in a sottish condition, is incapable of
praying or performing any other Christian duty; he is unfit for any
service.

6. Right here a special admonitory sermon might well be preached to us
dissolute Germans, in warning for our excesses and drunkenness. But
where would be forthcoming a sermon forcible enough to restrain the
shameful sottishness and the drink devil among us? The evil of
overindulgence has, alas, swept in upon us like a torrent,
overwhelming as a flood all classes. It daily spreads further and
further throughout the nation, embracing every station from the lowest
to the highest. All preaching, all admonition, seem far too weak--not
vain and impotent, but despised and scorned--to meet the emergency.
But the apostles, and even Christ himself, declared that in the end of
the world such a state of affairs should obtain. For that very reason
did Christ (Lk 21, 34) admonish Christians to take heed to themselves
lest at any time their hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and
drunkenness and the cares of this life, and so that day come upon them
unawares.

7. Now, God having in his infinite goodness so richly shed upon us
Germans in these latter times the Gospel light, we ought, in honor and
gratitude to him, to try to reform ourselves in the matter of
intemperance. We should fear lest through this evil besides committing
other sins we draw upon us the wrath and punishment of God. For naught
else can result from the pernicious life of intemperance but false
security, and contempt of God. Individuals continually dead in
drunkenness, buried in excesses, living like swine, cannot fear God,
cannot be occupied with divine things.

8. Had we no other incentive to abandon our intemperate living, the
scandalous reputation we have among the nations ought to move us to
reform. Other countries, particularly those bordering on Germany,
regard us with extreme contempt, calling us drunken Germans. For they
have virtue enough to abstain from excessive drinking. The Turks are
real monks and saints in this respect; so far are they from the evil
of intemperance that in obedience to the teaching of their Mohammed
they prohibit the drinking of wine or any other intoxicant, and punish
the offense as the greatest evil in their midst. For this very reason
are they better soldiers than our drunken masses. They are always
awake and vigilant, alert concerning their own interests, planning
attacks upon us and continually extending their dominion, while we lie
sleeping in our excesses as if we could withstand the Turks by
drunkenness and carousing.

9. But what is the use of multiplying words on the subject when the
evil prevails to such extent as to be common custom in the land? No
longer confined to the rude, illiterate rabble, to country villages
and public taverns, it has penetrated all cities and entered nearly
every house, being particularly prevalent among the nobility--in the
courts of princes. I recall that when I was young drunkenness was
regarded an inexpressibly shameful thing among the peerage, and that
the dear lords and princes restrained it with serious prohibitions and
punishments. But now it is more alarmingly prevalent among them than
among farmers. It is generally the case that when the great and good
begin to go down, they sink to a lower level than others. Yes,
intemperance has attained such prevalence that even princes and lords
have learned the habit from their young noblemen and are no longer
ashamed of it. Rather, they call it honorable, making it a civil
virtue befitting princes and noblemen. Whosoever will not consent to
be a drunken sot with them, must be discountenanced; while the knights
who stand for beer and wine obtain high honors, and great favors and
privileges, on account of their drinking. They desire fame in this
respect, as if they had secured their nobility, their shield and
helmet, by the very fact that they exceed others in the shamelessness
of their tippling.

10. Yes, and have we not further reason for checking the evil when
even the young practice it without fear or shame? They learn it from
the aged, and unrestrained they disgracefully and wantonly injure
themselves in the very bloom of life, destroying themselves as corn is
cut down by hail and tempest. The majority of the finest, most
promising young people, particularly the nobility, they of court
circles, ruin their health, body and life, before arriving at
maturity. How can it be otherwise when they who should restrain and
punish commit the same sins themselves?

11. Hence Germany has always been a wretched country, chastised and
plagued by the drink devil, and completely immersed in this vice,
until the bodies and lives of her people, as well as their property
and honor, are shamefully consumed and only a sordid existence
remains. He who would paint the conditions must portray something
swinish. Indeed, but a small proportion of the inhabitants of Germany
are undebased by this evil. These are children, girls and women. Some
sense of propriety in the matter remains to them, though occasionally
we find even under the veil some intemperance; however, it is with
restraint. Enough modesty remains to inspire the universal sentiment
that so disgraceful a thing is it for a woman to be drunk, such a one
deserves to be trampled upon in the streets.

12. In the light of their example, let us men learn to see our own
shame and to blush for it. While noting how disgraceful is drunkenness
for women, let us remember it is much more so for ourselves. We ought
to be saner and more virtuous; for, according to Peter, the woman is
the weaker vessel. Because of the weakness of women, we ought to have
more patience with them. Man being endowed with a broader mind,
stronger faculties and firmer nature, he should be the saner being,
the farther removed from the brute. It stands to reason that it is a
much greater disgrace for him to indulge in the vice of drunkenness.
In proportion to the nobility of his creation and the exalted nature
wherewith God has endowed him, should be the disgrace of such
unreasoning, brutish conduct on his part.

13. What can be said for us? So complete is the perversion of all
manly virtue and honor in our conduct in this respect that it cannot
be surpassed by any other possible degradation of manhood. There
remains to us but an atom of good reputation, and that is to be found
among the women. The occasional instance of drunkenness among them but
emphasizes our own disgrace. All countries look upon us with scorn and
contempt, regarding us as shameful and sordid creatures, day and night
bent upon making ourselves surfeited and stupid, possessing neither
reason nor intelligence.

The evil would be more tolerable, more excusable, if drinking and
carousing had any limit, if intoxication were but an occasional
thing--the case of a person inadvertently taking one drink too much,
or of taking a stimulant when tired from excessive labor and worry. We
excuse it in women who may chance to drink a little more at wedding
parties than they are accustomed to at home. But this excessive
guzzling kept up unceasingly day and night, emitting only to be filled
again, is wholly inconsistent with the character of a prince, a
nobleman, a citizen, yes, of a human being, not to mention the life of
a Christian; it is really more in keeping with the nature and work of
swine.

14. Now, when God and all mankind permit you to eat and to drink, to
enjoy good things, not merely what is necessary for actual
subsistence, but in a measure calculated to afford gratification and
pleasure, and you are yet not satisfied with that privilege--when such
is the case, your sordid and gluttonous tendencies are worthy one born
solely to consume beer and wine. But such are the excesses now to be
seen in the courts of princes--the banqueting and the drinking--that
one would think they meant to devour the resources of the country in a
single hour. Lords, princes, noblemen--the entire country, in
fact--are ruined, reduced to beggary, for the particular reason that
God's gifts are so inhumanly wasted and destroyed.

15. As I said before, the evil of drunkenness has, alas, gained such
ascendency as to be past restraint unless the Word of God may exert
some controlling influence among the few, the individuals who are
still human and who would be Christians. The masses will remain as
they are, particularly as the civil government makes no effort to
restrain the evil. It is my opinion that if God does not sometime
check the vice by a special judgment--and until he does it will never
be punished and restrained--even women and children will become
inebriate, and when the last day arrives no Christian will be found
but all souls will descend drunken into the abyss of hell.

16. Let all who desire to be Christians know that it is incumbent upon
them to manifest the virtue of temperance; that drunken sots have no
place among Christians, and cannot be saved until they amend their
ways, until they reform from their evil habits. Concerning them Paul
says plainly (Gal 5, 19-21): "Now the works of the flesh are manifest,
which are these: fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry,
sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousies, wraths, factions, divisions,
parties, envyings, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of which I
forewarn you, even as I did forewarn you, that they who practice such
things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."

Here you see that he who lies day and night in drunkenness has no more
inheritance in the kingdom of God than the whoremonger, adulterer, and
such like. Know then, just as idolatry, adultery and so on, are sins
excluding you from heaven, so too, drunkenness is a sin which bars you
from the blessings of baptism, and from remission of sins, faith in
Christ and your personal salvation. Hence, if you would be a Christian
and saved, you must be careful to lead a sober and temperate life. But
if you disregard this admonition and yet hope to be saved--well, then
continue to be an infidel and a brute so long as God permits.

17. Were you a Christian, even if you could permit yourself to be
unmoved by the physical injury wherein, by drunkenness, you plunge
yourself, not only wasting your money and property, but injuring your
health and shortening your life; and if you could permit yourself to
be unmoved by the stigma justly recognized by men and angels as
attaching to you, a filthy sot--even then you ought to be moved by
God's command, by the peril of incurring eternal damnation--of losing
God's grace and eternal salvation--to refrain from such unchristian
conduct. O God, how shameless and ungrateful we are, we so highly
blessed of God in having his Word and in being liberated from the
tyranny of the Pope, who desired our sweat and blood and tortured our
consciences with his laws--how ungrateful we are in the face of these
things not to amend our lives in some measure in honor to the Gospel,
and in praise and gratitude to God!

18. Where peradventure there are still pious parents or godfearing
Christian rulers, they ought, for the sake of lessening the evil of
intemperance, to restrain their children and domestics with serious
chastisements. Pastors and preachers are under obligation to admonish
the people frequently and faithfully, holding up to them God's
displeasure and wrath and the injuries to soul, body and property
resultant from this evil, to the intent that at least some might be
moved and profited. And they who wantonly and openly persist in the
vice, being not disposed to amend their conduct but at the same time
boast of the Gospel, should not be allowed to participate in the
sacrament of the Lord's Supper nor to act as sponsors at baptism.
Preachers and pastors should hold such as openly antichristian, and
should make a distinction against them the same as with manifest
adulterers, extortioners and idolaters. Such is Paul's command (1 Cor
5, 11): "I wrote unto you not to keep company, if any man that is
named a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a
reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such a one no, not to
eat."


NECESSITY FOR PRAYER.

19. But we will not now remark further upon this subject. To return to
Peter: He admonishes us to be sober so that we may give ourselves to
prayer, as becometh those who are Christians and have turned from the
vile, heathenish conduct of the world. Just preceding our text, in
verse 3, he says: "For the time past may suffice to have wrought the
desire of the Gentiles, and to have walked in lasciviousness, lusts,
winebibbings, revellings, carousings, and abominable idolatries." He
admonishes us as being now called and ordained to contend against the
devil by faith and prayer. Later on (ch. 5, 8) he brings in the same
warning in clearer phrase, exhorting Christians to be sober and
watchful. Do you ask, What is the great necessity therefor? he says:
"Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion [in the midst of a flock
of sheep], walketh about, seeking whom he may devour."

Peter's meaning is this: Since you are a people called to contend with
this powerful spirit which is more intent on seizing your souls than
is the wolf on seizing the sheep, it is essential you should take
thought how to withstand him. Resistance is effected only through
faith and prayer. But soberness and vigilance are necessary to enable
one to pray. With gormandizers and drunkards, reason is dethroned and
they are rendered incapable of respecting anything, or of performing
any good work. Therefore, the ability to pray and call upon God has
been taken from them and the devil overcomes and devours them at his
will.

20. The diligence in prayer which characterized Christians of the
primitive Church, even while undergoing great persecution, is apparent
to us. They were more than willing to assemble daily for prayer
together, not only morning and evening, but also at certain other
appointed hours; and frequently they watched and prayed entire nights.
Some of them, according to St. Augustine, carried their vigils to such
extent as at times to abstain from food for four days. True, this was
going to somewhat of an extreme, particularly when later the practice
came to be an example and a commandment. Yet their habit of perfect
sobriety morning, evening and at all times is commendable. With the
cessation of this practice in the congregations, there succeeded the
wretched order of monks, who pretend to do the praying for others.
They, it is true, observed the same appointed hours, the same seasons
of prayer, in their matins, vespers, and so on, but they did not
really pray; they merely kept up an incessant sound, muttering and
howling.

We still retain from the ancient custom the observance of morning and
evening prayers in schools for children. But the same practice should
obtain in every Christian family. Every father is under obligation to
train up his children to pray at least at the beginning and the close
of day, commending to God every exigency of this earthly life, that
God's wrath may be averted, and deserved punishment withheld.

21. Under such conditions, we would be properly instructed and not
have to be subjected to intolerable oppression and to prohibitions
relative to eating, drinking and dressing, being guided by nature's
demands and our own honor and pleasure. Yet we would not be inordinate
and brutish in these things nor shamefully dethrone reason.
Drunkenness is a sin and a shame to any man, and would be even were
there neither God nor commandment; much less can it be tolerated among
Christians. There is more virtue in this respect among the very
heathen and Turks. They put us to shame, while it is our place to set
an example shaming them. Our characters ought to be so noble as to
give no chance for offense at our conduct, that the name of God be not
defamed but glorified, as Peter admonishes in the conclusion of this
epistle lesson.


TEMPERANCE IN ALL THINGS.

22. What we have said in regard to sobriety, we must also say relative
to that other virtue--temperance,[2] to which Peter gives first place.
They are mutually related, but temperance respects not only eating and
drinking, but is opposed to all immoderation in outward life--in
clothing, ornament, and so on; to whatever is superfluous, or
excessive; to any extravagant attempt to be greater and better than
others. To such extent has immoderation gained the upper hand in the
world, there is nowhere any limit to expense in the way of household
demands, dress, wedding parties and banquets, in the way of
architecture, and so on, whereby citizens, rulers and the country
itself are impoverished, because no individual longer keeps within
proper bounds. Almost invariably the farmer aspires to equal the
nobleman, while the nobleman would excel the prince. As with sobriety,
so with the virtue of temperance--there is scarce to be found an
example of it in our midst, so completely has self-control, sincerity
and discipline given way.

[Footnote 2: The German text uses the two words "maszig" and
"nichtern," which may be rendered "temperate" and "sober."]

23. At the same time the apostle does not forbid appropriate and
respectable recognition of the things of physical well-being, in
keeping with each individual's station in life, even including things
ministering pleasure and joy. For Peter would not have filthy, rusty,
greasy monks nor sour-faced saints, with the hypocrisy and show of
their simulated austere and peculiar lives, wherein they honor not
their bodies, as Paul says (Col 2, 23), but are ever ready to judge
and condemn other people--the maiden, for instance, who chances to
join in a dance or wears a red dress. If you are a Christian in other
respects, God will easily allow you to dress and to adorn yourself,
and to live with comfort, even to enjoy honor and considerable
pleasure, so long as you keep within proper bounds; you should,
however, not go beyond the limits of temperance and moderation. In
other words, do not overreach propriety and self-restraint, regardless
of real pleasure, in the endeavor to show off in excessive and
unprofitable squandering. Such conduct results in confusion and
trouble--chastisement sent of God; in taxes, extortion, robbing and
stealing, until finally lords and subjects are ruined together.

"Above all things being fervent in your love [have fervent charity]
among yourselves; for love [charity] covereth a multitude of sins."

24. In the foregoing part of the text, Peter admonishes Christians
concerning their obligations to themselves; here he tells what is to
be their conduct toward others. He embraces all the good works named
in the second table of the commandments as obligations we owe to our
neighbor, in the little but forcible and comprehensive
phrase--"fervent in your love." This virtue, too, is incumbent on the
Christian who must contend against the devil and pray. For prayer is
hindered where love and harmony are displaced by wrath and ill-will.
The Lord's Prayer teaches: "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our
debtors."

How can they pray one for another who feel no interest in a neighbor's
wants, who rather are enemies, entertaining no good will toward one
another? Where hearts are inflamed with hatred toward men, prayer has
ceased; it is extinguished. Hence, antichristians and all popedom,
however holy their appearance, cannot pray while enemies to the Word
of God and persecutors of Christians. He who repeats the Lord's Prayer
while indulging wrath, envy and hatred, censures his own lips; he
condemns his own prayer when he seeks forgiveness from God but does
not think of forgiving his neighbor.

25. With Christians there must be, not merely natural human affection
such as exists even among heathen, but ardent, fervent love; not the
mere appearance of love, the smoke--false, hypocritical love, as Paul
calls it (Rom 12, 9)--but real fervor and fire, which consent not to
be easily extinguished, but which endure like the love between husband
and wife, or the love of parents for children. True conjugal and
parental love is not easily quenched, even though the object of its
affection be weak, diseased or dangerously ill. Rather the greater the
need and the danger of one individual, the more is the heart of the
other moved and the brighter does love burn.

26. Such sincere love, as the apostle elsewhere styles it, must exist
among Christians who are all children of one Father in heaven and
brothers and sisters. Indeed, they are under obligation to love even
their enemies--who are human beings of the same flesh and blood--and
to wish no one evil but rather to serve all wherever possible. This
love is the beautiful red robe for the adornment of Christians,
supplementing the pure white garment of faith received in baptism. It
is to be worn in obedience to the example of Christ, who for us, even
while we were enemies, wore the same red garment of love when he was
sprinkled with his own blood. It was then he burned with the intense
fire of ineffable and most exalted love.

27. The apostles were moved to admonitions of this character because
they clearly perceived the great weakness and imperfection bound to
exist among Christians even in their outward lives. They knew that no
one could, in his everyday life among men, live so discreetly as not
at some time or other, by word, gesture or act, to give offense to
someone, moving him to anger. Such perfection of life is found in no
family, not even with husband and wife. The case is the same as in the
human body: one member frequently comes in conflict with another; a
man may inadvertently bite his tongue or scratch his face. He who
would be a saint so stern and selfish as to endure no evil words or
acts, and to excuse no imperfections, is unfit to dwell among men. He
knows nothing of Christian love, and can neither believe nor put into
practice the article of the Creed concerning the forgiveness of sins.

28. So the Christian's fire of love must be characterized, not by a
dull, cold red, but by a warm scarlet--according to the Scriptures (Ex
26, 1), "Coccum bis tinctam" (rose-red). This love retains its fire
and is really true, having which the Christian is not easily
disheartened and overcome by wrath, impatience and revenge, but to a
certain extent is able to endure and tolerate attacks upon himself
calculated to distress. It manifests itself more strongly in suffering
and enduring than in action.

29. Therefore, Peter extols such love, declaring it to be a virtue
potent not only to bear but to cover "a multitude of sins." This
statement he introduces from the Proverbs of Solomon (ch. 10, 12). The
Papists, however, pervert its meaning, explaining it in a way at
variance with the doctrine of faith; they make of love to one's
neighbor a work or virtue having merit with God. It is their desire to
draw the conclusion that for the sake of our love our sins are
covered; that is, forgiven and exterminated. But we shall not notice
the dolts. It is clear enough from the text that reference is to
hatred and love received from men; our own sins are not intended here,
but the transgressions of others. To cover our sins in the sight of
God, yet other love is requisite--the love of the Son of God, who
alone is the bearer of sins in God's sight, and who, as John the
Baptist says, takes away, bearing them upon his own shoulders, the
sins of the whole world, including our own. And the example of his
love teaches that we, too, should in love cheerfully bear and freely
forgive the sins of others against us.

30. Solomon contrasts the two opposing principles of envious hatred
and love, and shows the effect of each. "Hatred," he says, "stirreth
up strifes; but love covereth all transgressions." Where hatred and
enmity dwell in the heart, they must inevitably stir up strife and
bring misfortune. Animosity cannot restrain itself. It either bursts
out in pernicious language clandestinely uttered against the object of
enmity, or it openly demeans itself in a manner indicating its ill
will. Hence follow reveling, cursing, quarreling and fighting, and,
when wholly unrestrained, cruelty and murder.

These things are due to the fact that the eyes of Younker Hate are so
blinded by scorn and venom that he can see only evil in every man with
whom he comes in contact; and when he actually finds it he will not
let it alone, but stirs it, roots and frets in it, as the hog roots
with defiled snout in offensive filth. "You must have viewed your
neighbor from behind," we say when one can speak and think only the
worst of a neighbor though he may have many good traits. Hate really
desires only that everyone be an enemy to his neighbor and speak the
worst about him, and if he hears aught in his neighbor's favor, he
puts upon it the very worst construction, with the result that the
other party is embittered and in turn comes to hate, curse and revile.
Thus the fire burns until only discord and mischief can obtain.

31. But on the other hand, as Solomon tells us, Love is a virtue pure
and precious. It neither utters nor thinks any evil of its neighbor.
Rather, it covers sin; not one sin, nor two, but "a multitude of
sins"--great masses of them, forests and seas of sin, as it were. That
is, love has no desire to reflect itself in a neighbor's sins and
maliciously rejoice in them. It conducts itself as having neither seen
nor heard them. Or, if they cannot be overlooked, it readily forgives,
and so far as possible mends matters. Where nothing else can be done,
it endures the sins of a neighbor without stirring up strife and
making a bad matter worse.

32. The apostle, upon authority of observation and experience,
acknowledges that where people dwell together there must be mutual
transgressions; it cannot be otherwise. No one will always do what is
pleasing to others, and each is liable to commit open wrong. Peter
would teach that since men must live together in their respective
stations in life--for the Scriptures make no recognition of singular
and intolerant saints who would promptly run out of the world when
some little thing takes place at variance with their opinions--he who
would live peaceably must so control himself as to be able to bear
with others, to overlook their imperfections, and to cover their
transgressions and thus avert further resulting evil.

Where no toleration is exercised, where no wrong is forgiven and
forgotten, hate and envy must find place. The sole office of these is
to stir up strife and contention. No peace and rest is to be had where
they exist; wrangling and fighting, oppression and bitterness, must
obtain. The unbounded ill-will, the innumerable strifes and wars,
having place on earth, all result from the abominable evil of the lack
of love among us and from the prevalence of pernicious hate, which
leads to anger and revenge when opposition offers. Thus we become
enemies to one another instead of to evil, when it is our duty to love
our fellow-men.

33. Now, if you would live as a Christian and enjoy peace in the
world, you must make every effort to restrain your anger and not to
give way to revenge as do others. Rather you must suppress these
passions, subduing your hatred by love, and be able to overlook and
bear, even though you have to suffer great pain and injustice. So
doing you will develop a noble character fitted to accomplish much
good through patience and humility, to allay and abolish enmity, and
strife, and thereby to reform and convert others. If you are unwilling
to be patient under injustice, then go on hating and envying,
impatiently blustering about and seeking revenge. But from such a
proceeding only strife and disquietude can be your portion, though
your complaints be long and your lamentations loud. You may run hither
and thither, and still you will not find the truth otherwise than as I
have stated. This text would have to be done away with first, and the
Scriptures falsified.

34. Paul, having in mind Solomon's saying about love, in extolling the
same virtue amplifies the latter's statement with various expressions,
in the thirteenth of First Corinthians. Among other things he says
there (verses 5-8): "Love seeketh not its own, is not provoked, taketh
not account of evil; rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth
with the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all
things, endureth all things. Love never faileth," etc. This, mark you,
is "being fervent in love," as Peter calls it. Here is the heat, the
fire, effective to consume all evil and to replace it with only good.
This fire will not permit itself to be quenched; it surmounts all
checking. Whatever of evil is heaped upon it, it remains in itself
good, and works only good.

35. The essential property, the "differentia essentialis," of genuine
love, as its nature requires fervency, is the fact that it cannot be
embittered. He who has it, will not cease to love, to do good and to
endure evil. In a word love cannot hate; it cannot be at enmity with
anyone. No evil can be wrought too great for love to endure. No one
can commit against it more sins than it can cover. It cannot be
enraged to the point of refusing to forgive. Its attitude is not
unlike that of the mother toward her child. The child may be imperfect
and impure, even filthy, but the mother notes it not, even if she sees
it. Her love blinds her. The eyes wherewith she looks upon her child
as the beautiful and God-given fruit of her own body are so pure that
she overlooks all imperfections, regarding them as nothing. Indeed,
she excuses, even glorifies, them. Although the child squints, it must
not be called squint-eyed, but love-eyed, and even a wart must be
thought to become it.

36. Behold, this is covering sins with love--a virtue peculiar to
Christians. The world does not possess that virtue. Such love is
impossible to it, whatever its pretensions and ostentations in that
respect. However precious the world's love may be, it is subject to
delusion, vanity and hypocrisy; for the world is false in appearance
and pretension. No worldling likes to be regarded hateful and envious
toward his neighbor, but succeeds in conducting himself, so far as
word and gesture are concerned, in an affable manner to all. This
attitude he maintains so long as we show him favors and obey his
pleasure. But when our love for him becomes a little disaffected and
we happen to offer a word he regards insulting, he promptly withdraws
his affections and begins to complain and to rage as if he had been
done a great wrong. He makes out he is under no obligation to endure
the injustice; and he boastingly plumes himself on having shown great
faithfulness and love to the offender, such fidelity as would have led
him readily to share with that one the very heart in his body, and now
he is so ill repaid that henceforth he will leave such people to be
served by the devil.

Such is the world's love. The world loves not "in deed," but "in
word," as John expresses it. 1 Jn 3, 18. It has no sincerity of heart.
Its love is a mere ignis-fatuus, shining but having no fire; a love
which endures not, but is blown out by a breath--extinguished with a
word. The reason of it all is, the world seeks only its own. It would
be served, would receive from others, and not make any return,
particularly if response must entail any suffering and forbearance on
its part.

37. "But," you may say, "shall evil go unpunished? What would be the
result were all evil to be tolerated and covered up? Would not that be
giving the wicked opportunity to carry out their evil designs? Would
it not encourage them in their wickedness until life would not be safe
to anyone?" I reply: We have often stated what individuals properly
merit our anger, and the extent and manner of punishment to be awarded
them. It is truly the office of civil government and also of the
father of every family to visit anger upon evil, and to punish and
restrain it. Again, every pastor and preacher is commissioned--yes,
every godly Christian--to admonish and censure when he sees a neighbor
committing sin, just as one brother in a family admonishes another.
But to be angry with evil and to inflict official
punishment--punishment by virtue of office--is a different thing from
being filled with hatred and revenge, or holding ill-will and being
unforgiving.

38. It is not inconsistent with the character of love to be angry and
to reprove when a neighbor is observed to sin. But true love feels no
inclination to behold the sin and disgrace of a neighbor; rather, much
rather, it desires his improvement. Just as parents correct with a rod
a disobedient and obstinate child but do not cast it out and become
enemies to it because of that disobedience, their object being only to
reform the child, while the rod is cast away after chastisement; so,
too, according to Christ's words (Mt 18, 15-17), you may censure your
brother when he sins, and manifest your displeasure and indignation,
that he may perceive and confess his wrong-doing, and if he does not
then amend his conduct, you may inform the congregation. At the same
time, his obstinacy does not justify you in becoming his enemy, or in
entertaining ill-will toward him. As said before, love to be true must
not be dull and cold, too indifferent to perceive a neighbor's sins;
it must endeavor to relieve him thereof. It must have the red fire of
fervor. He who truly loves will be distressed that a beloved neighbor
wickedly trespasses against God and himself. Again, true love does not
pale with hatred and revenge. It continues to glow red when the
possessor's heart is moved with sympathy, is filled with compassion,
for its neighbor. True, when fervor and admonition fail to effect any
reform, the sincere-hearted Christian must separate himself from his
obstinate neighbor and regard him as a heathen; nevertheless, he must
not become his neighbor's enemy nor wish him evil.

39. Anger and censure prompted by sincere love are very different from
the wrath, hatred and revengefulness of the world, which seeks only
its own interests and is unwilling to tolerate any opposition to its
pleasure. True love is moved to anger only when a neighbor's good
demands. Though not insensible to evil and not approving evil, it is
yet able to tolerate, to forgive and cover, all wrongs against itself,
and it leaves untried no expedient that may make a neighbor better.
Sincere love makes a clear distinction between the evil and the
person; it is unfriendly to the former, but kind to the latter.

"Using hospitality one to another without murmuring: according as each
hath received a gift, ministering it among yourselves, as good
stewards of the manifold grace of God."

40. Having admonished all Christians to love one another generally,
Peter mentions various instances where love should be externally
manifested among Christians, and speaks particularly of those who have
been favored above others with special gifts and special offices in
the Church, whereby they are able to serve their fellows. Thus he
teaches that the Christian's whole external conduct should be
regulated by that love which seeks not its own advantage, which aims
not at profiting itself, but lives to serve its neighbor.

41. First, Peter says, "Using hospitality one to another." The
reference is to works of love relative to the various physical needs
of a neighbor. Christians are to serve one another by ministering
temporal blessings. Especially are the poor and the wretched to be
remembered, they who are strangers or pilgrims among us, or come to us
houseless and homeless. These should receive the willing ministrations
of Christians, and none be allowed to suffer want.

42. In the apostles' time, the primitive days of the Church,
Christians were everywhere persecuted, driven from their possessions
and forced to wander hither and thither in poverty and exile. It was
necessary then to admonish Christians in general, and particularly
those who had something of their own, not to permit these destitute
ones to suffer want, but to provide for them. So, too, is it today
incumbent upon Christians to provide for the really poor--not lazy
beggars, or vagabonds--the outdoor pensioners, so called; and to
maintain those who, because of old age or other infirmity, are unable
to support themselves. The churches should establish common treasuries
for the purpose of providing alms for cases of this kind. It was so
ordained of the apostles in Acts 6, 3. Paul, also, in many places
admonishes to such works of love; for instance (Rom 12, 13):
"Communicating to the necessities of the saints."

43. Moreover, as Peter says, hospitality is to be extended "without
murmuring"--not with reluctance and aversion, as the way of the world
is. The world is particularly reluctant when called upon to give to
Christ the Lord, in other words to his poor servants the pastors and
preachers, or to their children, into whose mouths they must count
every bit of bread. It regards oppressive and burdensome the
contributing of even a dime for that purpose. At the same time, it
lavishly bestows its gifts upon the devil; as, for instance, under
popedom it gave liberally and willingly to indolent, useless monks and
shameless, wicked knaves, impostors and seducers. Such is the
inconsistence of the world; and it is a just punishment from God that
it is made unworthy to contribute where it well might toward the
preservation of God's Word and his poor Church; and that it must give
to other and ungrateful purposes. Christian love must be sincere
enough to do good "without murmuring." Paul says (Rom 12, 8) to "let
him that showeth mercy do so with cheerfulness," or willingly, without
restraint. Again (2 Cor 9, 7), "God loveth a cheerful giver," etc.


STEWARDS OF GOD'S GIFTS.

44. Peter speaks also of love's work in relation to the gifts of the
Holy Spirit, which are bestowed for the good of the entire Church and
particularly for its spiritual offices or government. He would have
the Spirit's gifts used in the service of others, and admonishes
Christians to consider all they have as given of God. The heathen have
no such thought, but live as if life and all they possess were of
their own attaining. But let Christians know they are under obligation
to serve God with their gifts; and God is served when they employ them
for the advantage and service of the people--reforming them, bringing
them to a knowledge of God, and thus building up, strengthening and
perpetuating the Church. Of such love the world knows nothing at all.

45. So then, Peter says, we are to use the gifts called
spiritual--gifts of the Holy Spirit--in the Christian Church "as good
stewards of the manifold grace of God." He would have us know they are
conferred upon us of grace. They are not given us to exalt ourselves
therewith, but to make us stewards of the house of God--of his Church.
They are manifold and variously distributed; for no one may possess
all. Some may have certain gifts and offices, and other individuals
certain others. But the mutual way in which these gifts are united and
related makes one individual serve another.

46. Peter would remind especially each individual to take heed to the
duties of his particular office. In the pursuance of his own
occupation, each is to attend faithfully to whatever is committed to
his charge; to do whatever he is commanded to do. As the Scriptures
teach in many places, there is no work nobler than being obedient to
the particular calling and work assigned of God, and satisfied
therein; faithfully serving one's neighbor and not gazing after what
is committed to, or enjoined upon, another, nor presuming to transcend
the limits of one's own commission. Many fickle, unstable spirits,
however, especially the presumptuous, proud and self-sufficient,
imagine themselves to have such measure of the Spirit and of skill
that their own calling is not sufficient for them; they must control
all things, must superintend and criticise the work of others. They
are malignant souls, doing nothing but to stir up mischief, and having
not the grace to perform any good work, even though they have noble
gifts. For they do not make use of the gifts of their office to serve
their neighbors; they only minister therewith to their own glory and
advantage.

47. The apostle goes on to show how God distributes his gifts in
various ways; he speaks of "manifold gifts." Paul likewise (1 Cor 12,
4-5) teaches that each one is given a special gift, and a particular
office wherein he is to exercise his gift, continuing in his own
sphere until called to another. Again, Paul says (Rom 12, 6-7):
"Whether prophecy, let us prophesy ... or ministry, let us give
ourselves to our ministry." It is not enough to have numerous special
gifts; grace is also requisite--"manifold grace of God," Peter says.
We must so use our gifts that God may be pleased to add his blessing,
if we would successfully and profitably serve the Church and
accomplish good. God's grace will not be given to those who do not, in
faith and in obedience to his command, fulfill the obligations of
their calling. Now Peter proceeds to illustrate, giving a rule of how
we are to use our individual gifts. He says:

"If any man speaketh, speaking as it were oracles of God; if any man
ministereth, ministering as of the strength which God supplieth."

48. It is highly essential that the Church observe this doctrine. Had
it been regarded heretofore, the world would not have been filled with
anti-christian errors and deceptions. For it fixes the bounds, it sets
the mark, for all aspiring church members, however exalted their
office and gifts; the limits of these they must not transcend.

49. The apostle classifies Church government in two divisions:
teaching, or "ministering" the Word; and holding office and fulfilling
its duties in accordance with the teachings of the Word. In both
cases, he tells us, we are to take heed that we are not actuated by
our own ideas and pleasures; our teaching and ruling must ever be
God's Word and work or office.

50. The workings of the Christian Church are not the same as the
processes of civil government. They are unlike the operations that
have to do with outward things, with temporal possessions. In the
latter case men are guided by their own understanding. At the dictates
of their own reason do they rule, instituting laws and regulations,
and prohibiting, receiving and distributing according to those
regulations. In the Christian Church we have a spiritual government of
the conscience, an effecting of obedience in God's sight. Whatever is
spoken or taught, promised or done, we may be assured, will avail and
stand before God; indeed, we may know it has origin with him, whereby
we are justified in declaring: "God himself uttered the command or
performed the work; for in us, his tabernacles where he lives and
rules, essentially he, as rightful Master in the house, commands and
performs all, though employing the instrumentality of men's lips and
hands."


ASSURANCE OF PURE DOCTRINE ESSENTIAL.

51. In the first place, therefore, it is necessary that both preachers
and hearers take heed to doctrine and have clear, unmistakable
evidence that what they embrace is really the true Word of God
revealed from heaven; the doctrine given to the holy and primitive
fathers, prophets and apostles; the doctrine Christ himself confirmed
and commanded to be taught. We are not permitted to employ the
teaching dictated by any man's pleasure or fancy. We may not adapt the
Word to mere human knowledge and reason. We are not to trifle with the
Scriptures, to juggle with the Word of God, as if it would admit of
being explained to suit the people; of being twisted, distended and
patched to effect peace and agreement among men. Otherwise, there
would be no sure, permanent foundation whereon the conscience might
rely.

52. Nor is it any more admissible for one who chances to have an
office of greater influence than others, who is peculiarly holy, or
who is of exalted spirit and intellect--even though he were an
apostle--to presume upon his gifts and the office and take authority
to teach according to his own inclinations, requiring his hearers to
accept unquestioningly his word and rely upon it because what he
teaches must be right. But thus the Pope in time past persuaded the
world that because he occupied the seat of the apostles, the highest
office, and assembled the councils, the latter could not err, and that
therefore all men are obliged to believe and obey what they resolve
and confirm.

53. This theory is opposed by Peter's teaching, and all the Scriptures
forbid men, at the peril of losing eternal salvation, to rely on or
respect anyone or anyone's gifts, in the things pertaining to faith.
The Scriptures teach rather that we are to prove and judge all
doctrine by the clear and sure Word of God given us from heaven and
supported by the reliable, concurrent testimony of the apostles and
the Church from the beginning. Paul, by way of denouncing the false
teachers who boasted of being disciples of eminent apostles and relied
upon the latter and their reputation, pronounced this sentence (Gal 1,
8): "Though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any
gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be
anathema."

54. Similarly, in the offices or government of the Church, there must
first be convincing evidence that command and office are instituted of
God. No one may be permitted to institute, promise or do anything of
his own power or pleasure and compel men to regard it as divine
authority or as essential to salvation, simply because of his
appointment to office. Nevertheless, the Pope, by virtue of his
ecclesiastical office, undertook to domineer over all men, to issue
commands and institute laws and religious services binding upon
everyone.

He who holds and would exercise office in the Church must first give
clear Scripture proof of having derived his office from the authority
of God. He must be able to say: "I did not institute such and such a
proceeding; it is of God." Then they who comply may be assured they
are obeying, not the individual, but God.

55. For instance, if in obedience to Christ's command I, as a carer of
souls, or servant of the Church, administer the holy sacrament or
pronounce absolution; if I admonish, comfort, reprove; I can say:
"That which I do, I do not; Christ performs it." For I act not of my
own design, but in obedience to the command of Christ--to his
injunction. The Pope and his adherents cannot make the above
assertion. For they pervert the order and commandment of Christ the
Lord when, in the sacrament, they withhold the cup from the laity, and
when they change the use of the sacrament or mass, making it a
sacrifice for the living and the dead. And thus they do also by
innumerable other abominations in their false worship, things
established without God's command, indeed contrary thereto; for
instance, the invocation of dead saints, and similar idolatries,
introduced by the Pope under cover of his office, as if he had the
power from Christ to institute and command such things.


ASSURANCE OF DIVINE EFFICIENCY ESSENTIAL.

56. In the second place, it is not enough that office and commandment
be God-appointed. We his ministers should be conscious--and the people
should so be taught--that efficacy of office is not of human effort,
but is God's power and work. In other words, that which the office was
designed to accomplish is not effective by virtue of our speech or
action, but by virtue of God's commandment and appointment. He it is
who orders; and himself will effectively operate through that office
which is obedient to God's command. For instance, in baptism, the
Lord's Supper and absolution, we are not to be concerned about the
person administering the sacraments or pronouncing absolution--who he
is, how righteous, how holy, how worthy. Worthiness or unworthiness of
either administering or receiving hand effects nothing; all the virtue
lies in God's command and ordinance.

57. This is the explanation of Peter's phrase, "the strength or
ability which God supplieth." Effect is produced, not through man's
power, not in obedience to man's will; but through the "strength" of
God and because of his ordering. No man has a right presumptuously to
boast his own power and ability effective, as the Pope does in his
pretensions about keys and ecclesiastical power. Know that it is
necessary to the efficacy of your office and the salutary character of
your work or authority in the Church that God himself give and exert
the influence. And that influence is exerted when, as before said,
God's Word and testimony are present that the ministry in question is
commanded, or authorized, of God.

58. Therefore it is earnestly enjoined that in the Church no attempt
should be made by any individual to institute any order or perform any
work, much or little, great or small, merely at the prompting of his
own inclinations or in obedience to the advice of any man. Let him who
would teach and work be sure that his words and acts are really of
God--commanded by him. Until he is certain in this respect, let him
abandon his office--suspend his ministry; let him engage in something
else for a time. Nor should we hear or believe anything presented to
us that does not bear indisputable evidence of being the divine Word,
or command. For God will not permit mockery of himself in the things
of his own prerogative and on which depends the salvation of souls;
for souls will be led to eternal ruin where this rule and command are
disregarded.

"That in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ."

59. Here is named the motive for all effort in the Christian
community. No one may seek for nor ascribe to himself power and honor
because of his office and gifts. Power and glory belong only to God.
He himself calls his Church, and rules, sanctifies and preserves it
through his Word and his Spirit. To this end he bestows upon us his
gifts. And all is done purely of grace, wholly for the sake of his
beloved Son, Christ the Lord. Therefore, in return for the favor and
ineffable goodness bestowed upon us regardless of our merits, we ought
to thank and praise God, directing all our efforts to the recognition
and glory of his name.



_Pentecost_

Text: Acts 2, 1-13.

1 And when the day of Pentecost was now come, they were all together
in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound as of the
rushing of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were
sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them tongues parting asunder, like
as of fire; and it sat upon each one of them. 4 And they were all
filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as
the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 Now there were dwelling at Jerusalem
Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this
sound was heard, the multitude came together, and were confounded,
because that every man heard them speaking in his own language. 7 And
they were all amazed and marvelled, saying, Behold, are not all these
that speak Galilæans? 8 And how hear we, every man in our own language
wherein we were born? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and the
dwellers in Mesopotamia, in Judæa and Capadocia, in Pontus and Asia,
10 in Phrygia and Pamphylia, in Egypt and the parts of Libya about
Cyrene, and sojourners from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans
and Arabians, we hear them speaking in our tongues the mighty works of
God. 12 And they were all amazed, and were perplexed, saying one to
another. What meaneth this? 13 But others mocking said, They are
filled with new wine.


THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

1. The historical facts of this day, as well as the beautiful sermon
the Holy Spirit delivered through the apostle Peter, which might
appropriately be fully treated at this time, we shall leave for the
special sermons on the various festivals of the year. For the present
we will but briefly speak of the occasion of this festival, and of the
office of the Holy Spirit.

2. The festival we call "Pentecost" had origin as follows: When God
was about to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt, he permitted
them to celebrate the Feast of the Passover on the night of their
departure; and commanded them on every annual recurrence of the season
to observe the same feast in commemoration of their liberation from
bondage and their departure from Egypt. Fifty days later, in their
journey through the wilderness, they arrived at Mount Sinai. There God
gave them the Law, through Moses; and there they were commanded to
observe annually, in commemoration of that giving of the Law, the
fiftieth day after the Feast of the Passover. Hence the name "Feast of
Pentecost," the word "Pentecost" coming from the Greek "Pentecoste,"
or "fiftieth day." Our Saxons, rather more in conformity to the Greek,
use the word "Pfingsten." So we have it here of Luke: "When the day of
Pentecost was now come," or "fully come"--when the Jews had properly
commemorated the giving of the Law of God on Mount Sinai--the Holy
Spirit came, in accordance with Christ's promise, and gave them a new
law. We now celebrate this feast, not because of the old historical
event, but because of the new one--the sending of the Holy Spirit. It
is in order, then, to give a little instruction concerning the
difference between our Pentecost and that of the Jews.


LITERAL LAW AND SPIRITUAL LAW.

3. The occasion of the Jews' observance was the giving of the literal
law; but it is ours to celebrate the giving of the spiritual law. To
present the point more clearly, we cite Paul's distinction of the two
covenants. 2 Cor 3, 6. And these two covenants respectively relate to
two kinds of people.

4. First, there is the written law commanded of God and composed of
written words. It is styled "written" or "literal" because it goes no
farther and does not enter the heart, nor are there any resulting
works other than hypocritical and extorted ones. Consisting only of
letters--a written law--it is wholly dead. Its province being to kill,
it ruled a dead people. With dead hearts men could not sincerely
observe the commandments of God. Were every individual left to do as
he pleased, being uninfluenced by fear, not one would be found
choosing to be controlled by the Law.

Unquestionably, human nature is conscious of the fact that while it
prefers to follow its own inclinations it is impelled to do otherwise;
for it reasons: "If I observe not God's commandments, he will punish
me, casting me into hell." Thus our nature is conscious of obeying
unwillingly and contrary to desire. Because of the punishment men
fear, they soon become enemies to God; they feel themselves sinners,
unable to stand before God, and consequently not acceptable to him.
Indeed, they would rather there were no God. Such enmity to God
remains persistently in the heart, however beautifully nature may
adorn itself outwardly. We see, therefore, how the Law, so long as it
consists merely of written words, can make no one righteous, can enter
no heart. Upon this topic we have elsewhere preached and written at
length.

5. The other law is spiritual; not written with ink and pen, nor
uttered by lips as Moses read from the tables of stone. We learn from
the historical record of the event that the Holy Spirit descended from
heaven and filled all the assembled multitude, and they appeared with
parting, fiery tongues and preached so unlike they were wont to do
that all men were filled with amazement. The Spirit came pouring into
their hearts, making them different beings, making them creatures who
loved and willingly obeyed God. This change was simply the
manifestation of the Spirit himself, his work in the heart. He wrote
in those hearts his pure and fiery flame restoring them to life and
causing them to respond with fiery tongues and efficient hands. They
became new creatures, aware of possessing altogether different minds
and different tendencies. Then all was life and light; understanding,
will and heart burned and delighted in whatever was acceptable to God.
Such is the true distinction between the written law of God and the
spiritual. Herein we perceive what is the work of the Holy Spirit.


THE OFFICE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

6. From this we should learn what is the office of the Holy Spirit in
the Church, and how or by what means he is received in the heart and
works there. In time past it was preached that he merely endorses what
the councils conclude and the Pope establishes in the Spiritless papal
Church. The fact is, however, the doings of Pope and councils are mere
outward matters; they relate to external commands and government. The
above theory is, therefore, wholly inconsistent and perverse. Of the
work of the Holy Spirit, the Papists make a dead, written law, when it
is really a living, spiritual law. Thus they render the Holy Spirit a
Moses, and his words mere human prattle. It is all due to ignorance of
the character of the Holy Spirit, of the purpose of his coming and the
nature of his office. Therefore, let us learn and firmly grasp those
things and be able rightly to distinguish the Spirit's office.

7. Observe here, the Holy Spirit descends and fills the hearts of the
disciples sitting in fear and sorrow. He renders their tongues fiery
and cloven, and inflames them with love unto boldness in preaching
Christ--unto free and fearless utterance. Plainly, then, it is not the
office of the Spirit to write books or to institute laws. He writes in
the hearts of men, creating a new heart, so that man may rejoice
before God, filled with love for him and ready, in consequence, to
serve his fellows gladly.

8. What are the means and process the Spirit employs to change and
renew the heart? It is through preaching Jesus Christ the Lord, as
Christ himself says (Jn 15, 26): "When the Comforter is come, whom I
will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which
proceedeth from the Father, he shall bear witness of me." As we have
often heard, the Gospel is the message God would have preached
world-wide, declaring to every individual that since no man can
through the Law be made righteous, but must rather become more
unrighteous, God sent his own beloved Son to shed his blood and die
for our sins, from which sins we could not be released by our own
effort.

9. It is not enough simply that Christ be preached; the Word must be
believed. Therefore, God sends the Holy Spirit to impress the
preaching upon the heart--to make it inhere and live therein.
Unquestionably, Christ accomplished all--took away our sins and
overcame every obstacle, enabling us to become, through him, lords
over all things. But the treasure lies in a heap; it is not everywhere
distributed and applied. Before we can enjoy it, the Holy Spirit come
and communicate it to the heart, enabling us to believe and say, "I
too, am one who shall have the blessing." To everyone who hears is
grace offered through the Gospel; to grace is he called, as Christ
says (Mt 11, 28), "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy
laden," etc.

10. Now, with the belief that God has come to our rescue and given us
this priceless blessing, inevitably the human heart must be filled
with joy and with gratitude to God, and must exultingly cry: "Dear
Father, since it is thy will to manifest toward me inexpressible love
and fidelity, I will love thee sincerely, and willingly do what is
pleasing to thee."

The believing heart never sees God with jealous eye. It does not fear
being cast into hell as it did before the Holy Spirit came, when it
was conscious of no love, no goodness, no faithfulness, on God's part,
but only wrath and displeasure. But once let the Holy Spirit impress
the heart with the fact of God's good will and graciousness towards
it, and the resulting joy and confidence will impel it to do and
suffer for God's sake whatever necessity demands.

11. Let us, then, learn to recognize the Holy Spirit--to know that his
mission is to present to us the priceless Christ and all his
blessings; to reveal them to us through the Gospel and apply them to
the heart, making them ours. When our hearts are sensible of this work
of the Spirit, naturally we are compelled to say: "If our works avail
naught, and the Holy Spirit alone must accomplish our salvation, then
why burden ourselves with works and laws?" By the doctrine of the
Spirit, all human works and laws are excluded, even the laws of Moses.
The Holy Spirit's instruction is superior to that of all books. The
Spirit-taught individual understands the Scriptures better than does
he who is occupied solely with the Law.

12. Hence, our only use for books is to strengthen our faith and to
show others written testimony to the Spirit's teaching. For we may not
keep our faith to ourselves, but must let it shine out; and to
establish it the Scriptures are necessary. Be careful, therefore, not
to regard the Holy Spirit as a Law-maker, but as proclaiming to your
heart the Gospel of Christ and setting you so free from the literal
law that not a letter of it remains, except as a medium for preaching
the Gospel.


BELIEVERS MUST YET RESIST SIN.

13. Here we should be intelligent and know that in one sense all is
not accomplished when the Holy Spirit is received. The possessor of
the Spirit is not at once entirely perfect, pure in all respects, no
more sensible of the Law and of sin. We do not preach the doctrine
that the Spirit's office is one of complete accomplishment, but rather
that it is progressive; he operates continuously and increasingly.
Hence, there is not to be found an individual perfect in righteousness
and happiness, devoid of sin and sorrow, ever serving all men with
pleasure.

The Scriptures make plain the Holy Spirit's office--to liberate from
sin and terror. But the work is not then complete. The Christian must,
in some measure, still feel sin in his heart and experience the
terrors of death; he is affected by whatever disturbs other sinners.
While unbelievers are so deep in their sins as to be indifferent,
believers are keenly conscious of theirs; but Christians are supported
by the Holy Spirit, who consoles and strengthens till his work is
fully accomplished. It is terminated when they no longer feel their
sins.

14. So I say we must be prudent; we must take heed we do not
arrogantly and presumptuously boast possession of the Holy Spirit, as
do certain proud fanatics. The danger is in becoming too secure, in
imagining ourselves perfect in all respects. The pious Christian is
still flesh and blood like other men; he but strives to resist evil
lusts and other sins, and is unwillingly sensible of evil desires. But
he who is not a Christian is carelessly secure, wholly unconcerned
about his sins.

15. It is of no significance that we feel evil lusts, provided we
endeavor to resist them. One must not go by his feelings and consider
himself lost if he have sinful desires. At the same time he must, so
long as life lasts, contend with the sins he perceives in himself. He
must unceasingly groan to be relieved of them, and must permit the
Holy Spirit to operate in him. There is in believers continual
groaning after holiness--groaning too deep for expression, as Paul
says in Romans 8, 26. But Christians have a blessed listener--the Holy
Spirit himself. He readily perceives sincere longing after purity, and
sends the conscience divine comfort.

There will ever be in us mingled purity and imperfection; we must be
conscious both of the Holy Spirit's presence and of our own sins--our
imperfections. We are like the sick man in the hands of the physician
who is to restore him to health. Let no one think: "Here is a man who
possesses the Holy Spirit; consequently he must be perfectly strong,
having no imperfections and performing only worthy works." No, think
not so; for so long as we live in the flesh here on earth, we cannot
attain such a degree of perfection as to be wholly free from weakness
and faults. The holy apostles themselves often lamented their
temptations and sorrows. Their feelings concealed from them the Holy
Spirit's presence, though they were aware of his strengthening and
sustaining power in their temptations, a power conveyed through the
Word and through faith.

16. The Holy Spirit is given only to the anxious and distressed heart.
Only therein can the Gospel profit us and produce fruit. The gift is
too sublime and noble for God to cast it before dogs and swine, who,
when by chance they hear the preached message, devour it without
knowing to what they do violence. The heart must recognize and feel
its wretchedness and its inability to extricate itself. Before the
Holy Spirit can come to the rescue, there must be a struggle in the
heart. Let no one imagine he will receive the Spirit in any other way.

17. We see this truth illustrated in the narrative here. The beloved
disciples were filled with fear and terror. They were disconsolate and
discouraged, and sunk in unbelief and despair. Only with great
difficulty and effort did Christ raise them again. Yet their only
failing was their faintheartedness; they feared the heavens would fall
upon them. Even the Lord himself could scarce comfort them until he
said: "The Holy Spirit shall descend upon you from heaven, impressing
myself upon your hearts until you shall know me and, through me, the
Father. Then will your hearts be comforted, strengthened and filled
with joy." And so was the promise fulfilled to them on this day of
Pentecost.



Luther's Church Postil contains no sermons on the epistle selections
for Whit-Monday and Whit-Tuesday.



_Pentecost Monday_

Text: Acts 2, 14-28.


Only the text, without a sermon, is printed in the edition of 1559 of
Luther's works. This and the following epistle text are too long to
consider here, as they contain so many beautiful quotations from the
Old Testament, which should not be passed over too briefly. Hence
their discussion is reserved for their proper place.



_Pentecost Tuesday_

Text: Acts 2, 29-36.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Epistle Sermons, Vol. II - Epiphany, Easter and Pentecost" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home