Grenville Kleiser.

The world's great sermons (Volume 1) online

. (page 8 of 13)
Online LibraryGrenville KleiserThe world's great sermons (Volume 1) → online text (page 8 of 13)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


he has need. Faith and grace now fill his
empty mind, and satisfy his hunger; then
follow works which are truly good; neither

128



LUTHER



are they works of the law, but of the spirit,
of faith and grace; they are called in the
Scripture the works of God, which He worketh
in us.

Whatsoever we do of our own power and
strength, that which is not wrought in us
by His grace, without doubt is a work of the
law, and avails nothing toward justification;
but is displeasing to God, because of the un-
belief wherein it is done. He that trusts in
works does nothing freely and with a willing
mind; he would do no good work at all if he
were not compelled by the fear of hell, or al-
lured by the hope of present good. Whereby it
is plainly seen that they strive only for gain,
or are moved with fear, showing that they
rather hate the law from their hearts, and had
rather there were no law at all. An evil
heart can do nothing that is good. This evil
propensity of the heart, and unwillingness
to do good, the law betrays when it teaches
that God does not esteem the works of the
hand, but those of the heart.

Thus sin is known by the law, as Paul
teaches; for we learn thereby that our affec-
tions are not placed on that which is good.
This ought to teach us not to trust in our-
selves, but to long after the grace of God,
whereby the evil of the heart may be takeu
away, and we become ready to do good works,
and love the law voluntarily; not for fear
of any punishment, but for the love of right-

1—9 129



THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS

eousness. By this means one is made of a
servant, a son; of a slave an heir.

We shall now come to treat more particu-
larly of the text. Verse 1. "The heir, as
long as he is a child, differeth nothing from
a servant, tho he be lord of all. ' ' We see that
the children unto whom their parents have
left some substance are brought up no other-
wise than if they were servants. They are
fed and clothed with their goods, but they
are not permitted to do with them, nor use
them according to their own minds, but are
ruled with fear and discipline of manners,
so that even in their own inheritance they live
no otherwise than as servants. After the
same sort it is in spiritual things. God made
with His people a covenant, when He prom-
ised that in the seed of Abraham, that is in
Christ, all nations of the earth should be
blest. That covenant was afterward con-
firmed by the death of Christ, and revealed
and published abroad by the preaching gos-
pel. For the gospel is an open and general
preaching of this grace, that in Christ is laid
up a blessing for all men that believe.

Before this covenant is truly opened and
made manifest to men, the sons of God live
after the manner of servants under the law;
and are exercised with the works of the law,
altho they can not be justified by them ; they
are true heirs of heavenly things, of this
blessing and grace of the covenant ; altho they

130



LUTHER



do not as yet know or enjoy it. Those that
are justified by grace cease from the works
of the law, and come unto the inheritance of
justification; they then freely work those
things that are good, to the glory of God and
benefit of their neighbors. For they have
possest it by the covenant of the Father,
confirmed by Christ, revealed, published, and
as it were delivered into their hands by the
gospel, through the grace and mercy of
God.

This covenant Abraham, and all the fa-
thers which were endued with true faith,
had no otherwise than we have: altho before
Christ was glorified this grace was not openly
preached and published: they lived in like
faith, and therefore obtained the like good
things. They had the same grace, blessing,
and covenant that we have; for there is one
Father and God over all. Thou seest that
Paul here, as in almost all other places, treats
much of faith; that we are not justified by
works, but by faith alone. There is no good
thing which is not contained in this covenant
of God; it gives righteousness, salvation, and
peace. By faith the whole inheritance of
God is at once received. From thence good
works come; not meritorious, whereby thou
mayest seek salvation, but which with a mind
already possessing righteousness thou must
do with great pleasure to the profit of thy
neighbors.

131



THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS

Verse 2. "But is under tutors and govern-
ors until the time appointed of the Father.''
Tutors and governors are they which bring
up the heir, and so rule him and order his
goods that he neither waste his inheritance
by riotous living, nor his goods perish or be
otherwise consumed. They permit him not
to use his goods at his own will or pleasure,
but suffer him to enjoy them as they shall be
needful and profitable to him. They keep
him at home, and instruct him whereby he
may long and comfortably enjoy his inherit-
ance: but as soon as he arrives to the years
of discretion and judgment, it can not but be
grievous to him to live in subjection to the
commands and will of another.

In the same manner stands the case of the
children of God, which are brought up and
instructed under the law, as under a master
in the liberty of sons. The law profits them
in this, that by the fear of it and the punish-
ment which it threatens, they are driven from
sin, at least from the outward work: by it
they are brought to a knowledge of them-
selves, and that they do no good at all with
a willing and ready mind as becomes sons;
whereby they may easily see what is the root
of this evil, and what is especially needful
unto salvation ; to wit, a new and living spirit
to that which is good: which neither the law
nor the works of the law is able to give ; yea,
the more they apply themselves to it, the more

132



LUTHER



unwilling they find themselves to work those
things which are good.

Here they learn that they do not satisfy
the law, altho outwardly they live according
to its precepts. They pretend to obey it in
works, altho in mind they hate it; they pre-
tend themselves righteous, but they remain
sinners. These are like unto those of Cain's
progeny, and hypocrites; whose hands are
compelled to do good, but their hearts con-
sent unto sin and are subject thereto. To
know this concerning one's self is not the
lowest degree toward salvation. Paul calls
such constrained works the works of the law;
for they flow not from a ready and willing
heart ; howbeit the law does not require works
alone, but the heart itself; wherefore it is
said in the first psalm of the blest man,
"But his delight is in the law of the Lord:
and in His law doth he meditate day and
night." Such a mind the law requires, but
it gives it not; neither can it of its own na-
ture: whereby it comes to pass that while the
law continues to exact it of a man, and con-
demns him as long as he hath such a mind,
as being disobedient to God, he is in anguish
on every side ; his conscience being grievously
terrified.

Then, indeed, is he most ready to receive
the grace of God; this being the time ap-
pointed by the Father w^hen his servitude
shall end, and he enter into the liberty of the

133



THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS

sons of God. For being thus in distress, and
terrified, seeing that by no other means he can
avoid the condemnation of the law, he prays
to the Father for grace; he acknowledges his
frailty, he confesses his sin, he ceases to trust
in works, and humbles himself, perceiving
that between him and a manifest sinner there
is no difference at all except of works, that
he hath a wicked heart, even as every other
sinner hath. The condition of man's nature
is such that it is able to give to the law works
only, and not the heart; an unequal division,
truly, to dedicate the heart, which, incompa-
rably excels all other things, to sin, and the
hand to the law: which is offering chaff to
the law, and the wheat to sin; the shell to
God, and the kernel to Satan; whose un-
godliness if one reprove, they become enraged,
and would even take the life of innocent Abel,
and persecute all those that follow the truth.
Those that trust in works seem to defend
them to obtain righteousness; they promise
to themselves a great reward for this, by per-
secuting heretics and blasphemers, as they
say, who seduce with error, and entice many
from good works. But those that God hath
chosen, learn by the law how unwilling the
heart is to conform to the works of the law;
they fall from their arrogancy, and are by
this knowledge of themselves brought to see
their own unworthiness. Hereby they receive
that covenant of the eternal blessing and the

134



LUTHER



Holy Ghost which renews the heart: whereby
they are delighted with the law, and hate sin ;
and are willing and ready to do those things
which are good. This is the time appointed
by the Father, when the heir must no longer
remain a servant, but a son; being led by
a free spirit, he is no more kept in subjection
under tutors and governors after the manner
of a servant; which is even that which Paul
teaches in the following:

Verse 3. "Even so we, when we were
children, were in bondage under the elements
of the word." By the word elements thou
mayest here understand the first principles
or law written; which is as it were the first
exercises and instructions of holy learning;
as it is said : "As concerning the time ye
ought to be teachers, ye have need that one
teach you again w^hich be the first principles
of the oracles of God." "Beware lest any
man spoil you through philosophy and vain
deceit, after the tradition of men, after the
rudiments of the world." "How turn ye
again to the weak and beggarly elements,
whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage."

Here Paul calls the law rudiments; be-
cause it is not able to perform that righteous-
ness which it requires. For whereas it ear-
nestly requires a heart and mind given to
godliness, nature is not able to satisfy it:
herein it makes a man feel his poverty, and
acknowledge his infirmity: it requires that

135



THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS

of him by right which he has not, neither is
able to have. ''The letter killeth, but the
Spirit giveth life." Paul calls them the
rudiments of the world, which, not being re-
newed by the Spirit, only perform worldly
things; to wit, in places, times, apparel, per-
sons, vessels, and such like. But faith rests
not in worldly things, but in the grace, word,
and mercy of God: counting alike, days,
meats, persons, apparel, and all things of this
world.

None of these by themselves either help or
hinder godliness or salvation. With those of
Cain's progeny, faith neither agrees in name
or anything else; one of them eats flesh,
another abstains from it; one wears black
apparel, another white; one keeps this day
holy, and another that; every one has his
rudiments, under which he is in bondage: all
of them are addicted to the things of the
Vv'orld, which are frail and perishable.
Against these Paul speaks, "Wherefore, if
ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments
of the world, why, as tho living in the world,
are ye subject to ordinances: touch not, taste
not, handle not, which all are to perish with
the using, after the commandments and doc-
trines of men? Which things have indeed a
show of wisdom in will-worship and humility,
and neglecting of the body ; not in any honor
to the satisfying of the flesh."

By this and other places above mentioned,

136



LUTHER



it is evident that monasteries and colleges,
whereby we measure the state of spiritual
men as we call them, plainly disagree with
the Gospel and Christian liberty: and there-
fore it is much more dangerous to live in this
kind of life than among the most pro-
fane men. All their works are nothing but
rudiments and ordinances of the world;
neither are they Christians but in name,
wherefore all their life and holiness are sin-
ful and most detestable hypocrisy. The fair
show of feigned holiness which is in those
ordinances does, in a marvelous and secret
manner, withdraw from faith more than
those manifest and gross sins of which open
sinners are guilty. Now this false and servile
opinion faith alone takes away, and teaches
us to trust in, and rest upon, the grace of
God, whereby is given freely that which is
needful to work all things.

Verse 4. "But when the fulness of the
time was come, God sent forth His Son, made
of a woman, made under the law, to redeem
them that were under the law, that we might
receive the adoption of sons." After Paul
had taught us that righteousness and faith
can not come to us by the law, neither can
we deserve it by nature, he shows us by whom
we obtain it; and who is the author of our
justification. The apostle saith, "When the
fulness of the time was come"; here Paul
speaks of the time which was appointed by

137



THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS

the Father to the Son, wherein He should
live under tutors, etc. This time being come
to the Jews, and ended, Christ came in the
flesh; so it is daily fulfilled to others, when
they come to the knowledge of Christ, and
change the servitude of the law for the faith
of sons. Christ for this cause came unto us,
that believing in Him we may be restored to
true liberty; by which faith they of ancient
times also obtained the liberty of the Spirit.

As soon as thou believest in Christ, He
comes to thee, a deliverer and Savior; and
now the time of bondage is ended; as the
apostle saith, the fulness thereof is come.

Verse 6. "And because ye are sons, God
hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into
your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." Here
we see plainly that the Holy Ghost cometh
to the saints, not by works, but by faith alone.
Sons believe, while servants only work; sons
are free from the law, servants are held under
the law, as appears by those things that have
been before spoken. But how comes it to
pass that he saith "because ye are sons, God
hath sent forth the Spirit," etc., seeing it
is before said that by the coming of the Spirit
we are changed from servants to sons: but
here, as tho we could be sons before the com-
ing of the Spirit, he saith "because ye are
sons," etc. To this question we must answer,
that Paul speaks here in the same manner that
he did before, that is, before the fulness of

138



LUTHER



the time came, we were in bondage under
the rudiments of the world : all that shall be-
come sons are counted in the place of sons
with God: therefore he saith rightly, "be-
cause ye are sons," that is, because the state
of sons is appointed to you from everlasting,
' ' God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son, ' '
to wit, that He might finish it in you, and
make you such as He hath long since of His
goodness determined that He would make you.

Now if the Father give unto us His Spirit^
He will make us His true sons and heirs, that
we may with confidence cry with Christ,
Abba, Father ; being His brethren and fellow
heirs. The apostle has well set forth the good-
ness of God which makes us partakers with
Christ, and causes us to have all things com-
mon with Him, so that we live and are led
by the same Spirit. These words of the
apostle show that the Holy Ghost proceeds
from Christ, as he calls Him his Spirit. So
God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son,
that is, of Christ, for He is the Spirit of God,
and comes from God to us, and not ours, un-
less one will say after this manner, "my Holy
Spirit," as we say, "my God," "my Lord,"
etc. As He is said to be the Holy Spirit of
Christ, it proves Him to be God of whom that
Spirit is sent, therefore it is counted His
Spirit.

Christians may perceive by this whether
they have in themselves the Holy Ghost, to

139



THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS

Avit, the Spirit of sons; whether they hear
His voice in their hearts: for Paul saith, He
crieth in the hearts which He possesseth,
Abba, Father; he saith also, "We have re-
ceived the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry
Abba, Father. ' ' Thou hearest this voice when
thou findest so much faith in thyself that
thou dost assuredly, without doubting, pre-
sume that not only thy sins are forgiven thee,
but also that thou art the beloved Son of God,
who, being certain of eternal salvation, durst
both call Him Father, and be delighted in
Him with a joyful and confident heart. To
doubt these things brings a reproach upon the
death of Christ, as tho He had not obtained
all things for us.

It may be that thou shalt be so tempted as
to fear and doubt, and think plainly that God
is not a favorable Father, but a wrathful
revenger of sins, as it happened with Job,
and many other saints: but in such a con-
flict this trust and confidence that thou art
a son ought to prevail and overcome. It is
said "The Spirit itself maketh intercession
for us with groanings which can not be ut-
tered; and that He beareth witne.ss with our
spirit that we are the children of God." How
can it therefore be that our hearts should not
hear this cry and testimony of the Spirit?
But if thou dost not feel this cry, take heed
that thou be not slothful and secure; pray
constantly, for thou art in an evil state.

140



LUTHER



Cain saith, *'My punishment is greater
than I can bear. Behold, Thou hast driven
me out this day from the face of the earth,
and from Thy face shall I be hid ; and it shall
come to pass that every one that iindeth me
shall slay me." This is a dreadful and ter-
rible cry, which is heard from all Cain 's prog-
eny, all such as trust to themselves and
their own works, who put not their trust in
the Son of God, neither consider that He was
sent from the Father, made of a woman under
the law, much less that all these things were
done for their salvation. And while their un-
godliness is not herewith content, they begin
to persecute even the sons of God, and grow so
cruel that, after the example of their father
Cain, they can not rest until they slay their
righteous brother Abel, wherefore the blood of
Christ continually cries out against them noth-
ing but punishment and vengeance ; but for the
heirs of salvation it cries by the Spirit of Christ
for nothing but grace and reconciliation.

The apostle here uses a Syrian and Greek
word, saying, Abba, Pater. This word Abba,
in the Syrian tongue, signifies a father, by
which name the heads of monasteries are still
called; and by the same name, hermits in
times past, being holy men, called their presi-
dents : at last, by use, it was also made a Latin
word. Therefore that which Paul saith is as
much as Father, Father; or if thou hadst
rather, "my Father."

141



THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS

Verse 7. "Wherefore thou art no more a
servant, but a son, and if a son, then an heir
of God through Christ. ' ' He saith, that after
the coming of the Spirit, after the knowledge
of Christ, "thou art not a servant." A son
is free and willing, a servant is compelled and
unwilling; a son liveth and resteth in faith,
a servant in works. Therefore it appears that
we can not obtain salvation of God by works,
but before thou workest that which is accept-
able to Him, it is necessary that thou receive
salvation; then good works will freely flow,
to the honor of thy heavenly Father, and to
the profit of thy neighbors; without any fear
of punishment, or looking for reward.

If this inheritance of the Father be thine
by faith, surely thou art rich in all things,
before thou hast wrought any thing. It is
said "Your salvation is prepared and re-
served in heaven, to be showed in the last
time," wherefore the works of a Christian
ought to have no regard to merit, which is
the manner of servants, but only for the use
and benefit of our neighbors, whereby we
may truly live to the glory of God. Lest that
any think that so great an inheritance cometh
to us without cost (altho it be given to
us without our cost or merit), yet it cost
Christ a dear price, who, that He might pur-
chase it for us, was made under the law, and
satisfied it for us, both by life and also by
death.

142



LUTHER



Those benefits which from love we bestow
upon our neighbor, come to him freely, with-
out any charges or labor of his, notwithstand-
ing they cost us something, even as Christ
hath bestowed those things which are His
upon us. Thus hath Paul called back the
Galatians from the teachers of works, w^hich
preached nothing but the law% perverting the
Gospel of Christ. Which things are very
necessary to be marked of us also: for the
Pope, with his prelates and monks hath for
a long time intruded, urging his laws, which
are foolish and pernicious, disagreeing in
every respect w^ith the Word of God, sedu-
cing almost the whole world from the gospel
of Christ, and plainly extinguishing the faith
of sons, as the Scripture hath in diverse places
manifestly prophesied of His kingdom.
Wherefore let every one that desires salvation,
diligently take heed of him and his followers,
no otherwise than Satan himself.



143



LATIMER
ON CHRISTIAN LOVE



I— 10



BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

Hugh Latimer^ reformer and martyr,
was bom in Leicestershire, England, in
1485, or two years later than Luther. On
completing an education at Cambridge,
he took holy orders and preached stren-
uously in favor of the Lutheran \'iews.
As a profound canonist, he was placed
on the commission appointed to decide on
the legality of Henry VIII's marriage
with Katharine of Aragon. His decision
in favor of Henry gained him a royal
chaplaincy and a living.

Appointed Bishop of Worcester in
1535, he preached boldly the reformed
doctrines, but lost favor at court, and
when Gardiner and Bonner pushed a re-
actionary movement to the front, he
retired from his see (1539). Latimer lived
in peaceful retirement under Edward YI,
but under Mary he, with other reformers,
was arrested and thrown into the Tower.
Brought to Oxford for examination, he
refused to recant, and was confined for
a year in the common prison, and on Oc-
tober 16, 1555, put to death by fire, along
with Ridley, at a place opposite Balliol
College, where the Martyr's Memorial was
subsequently erected.



LATIMER

1-185— 1555
ON CHRISTIAN LOVE

This is my commandment, that ye love one another,
as I have loved you. — John xv., 12.

SEEING the time is so far spent, we will
take no more in hand at this time than
this one sentence; for it will be enough
for us to consider this well, and to bear it
away with us. "This I command unto you,
that ye love one another." Our Savior him-
self spake these words at His last supper: it
was the last sermon that He made unto His
disciples before His departure; it is a very
long sermon. For our Savior, like as one that
knows he shall die shortly, is desirous to spend
that little time that He has with His friends,
in exhorting and instructing them how they
should lead their lives. Now among other
things that He commanded this was one:
' ' This I command unto you, that ye love one
another." The English expresses as tho it
were but one, "This is my commandment."
I examined the Greek, where it is in the plural
number, and very well; for there are many
things that pertain to a Christian man, and
yet all those things are contained in this one

147



THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS

tiling, that is, love. He lappeth up all things
in love.

Our whole duty is contained in these words,
''Love together." Therefore St. Paul saith,
"He that loveth another fulfilleth the whole
law " ; so it appeareth that ail things are con-
tained in this word love. This love is a pre-
cious thing; our Savior saith, "By this shall
all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye
shall love one another."

So Christ makes love His cognizance, His
badge. His livery. Like as every lord com-
monly gives a certain livery to his servants,
whereby they may be known that they pertain
unto him ; and so we say, yonder is this lord 's
servants, because they wear his livery : so our
Savior, who is the Lord above all lords, would
have His servants known by their liveries and
badge, which badge is love alone. Whosoever
now is endued with love and charity is His
servant; him we may call Christ's servant;
for love is the token whereby you may know
that such a servant pertaineth to Christ; so
that charity may be called the very livery of
Christ. He that hath charity is Christ's serv-
ant; he that hath not charity is the servant
of the devil. For as Christ's livery is love
and charity, so the devil's livery is hatred,
malice and discord.

But I think the devil has a great many
more servants than Christ has; for there are
a great many more in his livery than in

148


1 2 3 4 5 6 8 10 11 12 13

Online LibraryGrenville KleiserThe world's great sermons (Volume 1) → online text (page 8 of 13)