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But more about the Anabaptists another time, if the Lord Christ wills. One generation passes, another comes.

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If one heresy dies, another springs up, for the devil neither slumbers nor sleeps. I myself — although I am nothing — who have now been in the ministry of Christ for twenty years, can testify that I have been attacked by more than twenty sects, of which some have entirely perished, while others still show signs of life, like parts of dismembered insects.

But Satan, that God of all factious men, daily raises up new sects, and the latest is one which I should least of all have foreseen or expected.

Why, they themselves are compelled to invent revelations of wrath against the wicked and unbelieving — as if the Law were or could be something other than a revelation of Wrath! Such is the blindness and pride of those self-condemned men. Ministers of the Word, therefore, if they would be counted faithful and prudent on the Day of Christ, ought to be very sure that St.

Let the minister of Christ know, I say, that as long as he preaches Christ purely, there will be no lack of perverse persons, even among our own people, who will make it their business to cause trouble in the Church. And he may comfort himself with the thought that there is no peace between Christ and Belial, or between the Seed of the woman and the seed of the Serpent. Indeed, he may rejoice in the trouble he is caused by sects and the constant succession of seditious spirits. For this is our glory, the testimony of our conscience that we are found standing and fighting on the side of the Seed of the woman against the seed of the Serpent.

Let him bite our heel and never cease biting; we for our part will not cease to crush his head through Christ, the first to crush it, who is blessed for ever. Wherefore it is very necessary, that this doctrine be kept in continual practice and public exercise both of reading and hearing. And although it be never so well known, never so exactly learned, yet the devil our adversary, who continually rangeth about seeking to devour us, is not dead; likewise our flesh and old man is yet alive; besides this, all kinds of temptations vex and oppress us on every side.

Wherefore this doctrine can never be taught, urged, and repeated enough. If this doctrine be lost, then is also the whole knowledge of truth, life and salvation lost and gone. If this doctrine flourishes, then all good things flourish, religion, the true service of God, the glory of God, the right knowledge of all things and states of life.

First of all it behooveth that we speak of the argument of this Epistle: that is to say, what matter St. Paul here chiefly treateth of. The argument therefore is this. Paul goeth about to establish the doctrine of faith, grace, forgiveness of sins, or Christian righteousness, to the end that we may have a perfect knowledge and difference between Christian righteousness and all other kinds of righteousness. For there be divers sorts of righteousness.

There is a political or civil righteousness, which emperors, princes of the world, philosophers and lawyers deal withal. There is also a ceremonial righteousness, which the traditions of men do teach. This righteousness parents and schoolmasters may teach without danger, because they do not attribute unto it any power to satisfy for sin, to placate God, or to deserve grace: but they teach such ceremonies as are only necessary for the correction of manners, and certain observations concerning this life. Besides these, there is another righteousness called the righteousness of the law, or of the Ten Commandments, which Moses teaches.

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

For these kinds of righteousness are also of the gift of God, like as other good things are which we do enjoy. For in this we work nothing, we render nothing unto God, but only we receive and suffer another to work in us , that is to say, God. Therefore it seemeth good unto me to call this righteousness of faith or Christian righteousness, the passive righteousness.

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

How desperately have I lived! Would to God I might live longer: then would I amend my life. On the other side, Satan abusing the infirmity of our nature, doth increase and aggravate these cogitations in us. Then can it not be but that the poor conscience must be more grievously troubled, terrified and confounded. For it is impossible that the mind of man itself should conceive any comfort, or look up unto grace only, in the feeling and horror of sin, or constantly reject all disputing and reasoning about works.

True it is, that of all things in the world, the law is most excellent: yet is it not able to quiet a troubled conscience, but increaseth terrors, and driveth it to desperation; for by the commandment sin is made exceeding sinful Romans Wherefore the afflicted and troubled conscience hath no remedy against desperation and eternal death, unless it take hold of the promise of grace freely offered in Christ, that is to say, this passive righteousness of faith, or Christian righteousness.

Which if it can apprehend, then may it be at quiet and boldly say: I seek not the active or working righteousness, although I know that I ought to have it, and also to fulfill it. But be it so that I had it, and did fulfill it indeed, yet notwithstanding I cannot trust unto it, neither dare I set it against the judgment of God. Briefly, [I rest only upon] the righteousness of Christ and of the Holy Ghost, which we do not, but suffer, and have not, but receive ; God the Father freely giving it unto us through Jesus Christ.

Like as the earth engendereth not rain, nor is able by her own strength, labor and travail to procure the same, but receiveth it of the mere gift of God from above: so this heavenly righteousness is given us of God without our works or descryings. As much therefore as the earth of itself is able to do in getting and procuring to itself seasonable showers of rain to make it fruitful, even so much are we men able to do by our strength and works in winning this heavenly and eternal righteousness; and therefore we shall never be able to attain unto it, unless God himself by mere imputation and by his unspeakable gift do bestow it upon us.

The greatest knowledge, then, and the greatest wisdom of Christians is, not to know the law, to be ignorant of works and of the whole active righteousness, especially when the conscience wrestleth with the judgment of God. Contrariwise, works and the keeping of the law must be so straitly required in the world, as if there were no promise or grace; and that because of the stubborn, proud and hard-hearted, before whose eyes nothing must be set but the law, that they may be terrified and humbled.

For the law is given to terrify and kill such, and to exercise the old man; and both the word of grace and of wrath must be rightly divided, according to the Apostle Timothy f. Here is then required a wise and faithful disposer of the Word of God, which can so moderate the law, that it may be kept within his bounds. He that teacheth that men are justified before God by the observation of the law, passeth the bounds of the law, and confoundeth these two kinds of righteousness, active and passive, and is but an ill logician, for he doth not rightly divide.

For the flesh or the old man must be coupled with the law and works: the spirit or new man must be joined with the promise of God and his mercy. Wherefore when I see a man that is bruised enough already, oppressed with the law, terrified with sin, and thirsting for comfort, it is time that I should remove out of his sight the law and active righteousness, and that should set before him by the Gospel the Christian and passive righteousness, which excluding Moses with his law, offereth the promise made in Christ, who came for the afflicted and for sinners. Here is man raised up again and conceiveth good hope, neither is he any longer under the law, but under grace Romans How not under the law?


According to the new man, to whom the law doth not appertain. This is our divinity , whereby we teach how to put a difference between these two kinds of righteousness, active and passive : to the end that manners and faith, works and grace, policy and religion should not be confounded, or taken the one for the other. Both are necessary, but both must be kept within their bounds : Christian righteousness appertaineth to the new man, and the righteousness of the law appertaineth to the old man, which is born of flesh and blood.

Upon this old man, as upon an ass, there must be laid a burden that may press him down, and he must not enjoy the freedom of the Spirit, or grace, except he first put upon him the new man by faith in Christ which notwithstanding is not fully done in this life ; then may he enjoy the kingdom and unspeakable gift of grace.

Study Notes on Galatians

This I say to the end that no man should think we reject or forbid good works, as the Papists do most falsely slander us, neither understanding what they themselves say, nor what we teach. They know nothing but the righteousness of the law, and yet they will judge of that doctrine which is far above the law, of which it is impossible that the carnal man should be able to judge.

Therefore they must needs be offended, for they can see no higher than the law. Whatsoever then is above the law, is to them a great offense. But we imagine as it were two worlds, the one heavenly and the other earthly. In these we place these two kinds of righteousness, being separate the one far from the other. The righteousness of the law is earthly and hath to do with earthly things, and by it we do good works. But as the earth bringeth not forth fruit except first it be watered and made fruitful from above for the earth cannot judge, renew and rule the heaven, but contrariwise the heaven judgeth, reneweth, ruleth and maketh fruitful the earth, that it may do what the Lord hath commanded : even so by the righteousness of the law, in doing many things we do nothing, and in fulfilling of the law we fulfill it not, except first, without any merit or work of ours, we be made righteous by the Christian righteousness, which nothing appertaineth to the righteousness of the law, or to the earthly and active righteousness.

But this righteousness is heavenly and passive: which we have not of ourselves, but receive it from heaven: which we work not, but apprehend it by faith ; whereby we mount up above all laws and works. Wherefore like as we have borne as St. Paul saith the image of the earthly Adam, so let us bear the image of the heavenly 1 Corinthians , which is the new man in a new world, where is no law, no sin, no sting of conscience, no death, but perfect joy, righteousness, grace, peace, life, salvation and glory.

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Why, do we then nothing? Do we work nothing for the obtaining of this righteousness? I answer: Nothing at all.

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

Here no sin is perceived, no terror or remorse of conscience felt; for in this heavenly righteousness sin can have no place for there is no law, and where no law is, there can be no transgression Romans Seeing then that sin hath here no place, there can be no anguish of conscience, no fear, no heaviness. Therefore St. But if there be any fear or grief of conscience, it is a token that this righteousness is withdrawn, that grace is hidden, and that Christ is darkened and out of sight.

The Letter to the Galatians

But where Christ is truly seen indeed, there must needs be full and perfect joy in the Lord, with peace of conscience, which most certainly thus thinketh: Although I am a sinner by the law, as touching the righteousness of the law, yet I despair not, yet I die not, because Christ liveth, who is both my righteousness and my everlasting and heavenly life.

In that righteousness and life I have no sin, no sting of conscience, no care of death.