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eth, and leadeth a man as well unto the knowledge of himself as of God.
So St. Paul disputes by enallages and prosopopæias in the 7th of Romans.“ By the law cometh the knowledge of sin;" he calleth the law the power and force of sin (1 Cor. xv.). Only the law declareth how great an ill sin is, and the man, that beholdeth the will of God in the law, shall find himself and all his life guilty of eternal death. Read the 7th chapter to the Romans with judgment, and then know what man is, how miserably spoiled of virtue and oppressed with sin. So Paul learned to know himself, and knew not what sin was, till the law had made him afraid, and shewed him that he was, with all his holiness, being a Pharisee, condemned. “Sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.” (Rom. vii.) And in the same chapter he sheweth plainly what he saw in the glass and contemplation of the law, that sin was manifested thereby, and the greatness thereof known.
“ But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.” Mark the travice and play between the law of God and the conscience of Paul, and see how he giveth thanks unto his master the law, and proclaimeth it to be a spiritual and holy thing, as a light or torch to shew man his filthy and stinking nature; saying, “The law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin;" a bondinan of sin and traitor to God.
Here thou seest, good reader, what a miserable wretch man is; and how man may know his misery by the law. Howbeit, though we read it many times, we be neither the wiser, nor the better. We be not taught a deal by this mistress the law: she cannot make us good scholars. We
dally and play so with the world ; we live in such security and ease, that, say she what she list, we turn the deaf ear and will not hear.
Therefore to make man to know himself, God sendeth another mistress to school him, to wit, adversity. Then we begin to understand the law of God, that dissuadeth from sin, and we then know our misery. As David crieth, that he is not able to bear the burden of sin, if the Lord executeth justice, as the greatness thereof meriteth: “If thou, Lord, shouldst be extreme to mark what we have done amiss, who may abide it?” (Ps. cxxx.) David, when he felt the pains of his adultery, the death of his child, the conspiracy of Absalom, the vitiating of his wives, exile and banishment, and such other calamities; in this school of nisery he learned this verse, “Who can sustain the ire of God?” Now though these temporal pains be more than man can support; they be but sport and dalliance in respect of the pains eternal. How beit, man may learn by thém how much God is displeased with sin, and know himself tɔ be, as he is, a vile piece of earth with all his pride and pomp, and a rebel unto his Maker, as no creature else is, saving the devil and he.
This inward and secret ill, rebellion of the heart, blindness of the intention, and frowardness of will, is daily augmented by the malice of the devil and our own negligence, that regardeth not what the law teacheth, that God requireth of man. Because the Gospel teacheth, that we are only saved by the mercy of God for the merits of Christ, our gospellers have set all at liberty, and care not at all about such a life as should and ought to follow every justified man and disciple of Christ. It is no marvel, for there is no discipline and punishment for sin: and wheresoever the Gospel be
preached and this correction not used, as well against the highest as the lowest, there shall never be a godly church.
As a king's arnıy, though their hearts be never so good, cannot resist the force of his enemies without weapons and artillery necessary for men of war: no more can the king's majesty, the magistrates, and preachers, preserve the church against the devil and sin without the excommunication of such as openly offend the divine majesty of God and his word. For by this means the sinner is taught by the Scripture to know himself. (1 Cor. v.) “ In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan, for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” God would not only the faithful, but also the unbelievers to be kept in order by the discipline of the law, as Paul saith, “ The law is given for the unrighteous;" likewise Deut. xix. “Thou shalt put the evil away from among you. And these which remain shall hear, and fear; thino eye shall not pity him.”
This political and civil use of the law teacheth man to know his faults: and this discipline of the law exterior and civil is necessary for man for divers causes: first, to declare our obedience unto God; then, to avoid the punishment that always God or else the magistrate revengeth the transgression with ; thirdly, because of a public peace in every commonwealth, that the one should not do injuries to the other, neither in body nor in goods.
There is yet another cause, why this discipline of the law is necessary, which few men regard Paul saith, that it is a schoolmistress unto Christ, because such as leave not off to sin, and to do the thing contrary unto the express word of God, to those Christ is not profitable. This use teacheth Paul (1 Cor. vi.): “ Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, &c. shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” And so saith John, “Whosoever sinneth is of the devil.” He that knoweth himself must refrain from doing of ill; hear the Gospel, and learn the Gospel, that the Spirit of God may be efficacious in him: which cannot be as long as he hath a furpose to continue in doing of ill. Ezekiel speaketh of this use civil and politic of the law, and likewise of the second use thereof, which is, as I said before, to shew man his sin, to accuse man before God, to fear him and to condemn man plainly: (chap. xxxiii.) “I will not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live." These words declare that as God would not the death of a sinner, so he requireth the sinner to cease from doing of ill, and to be converted unto virtue.
As for the second use of the law, which is to declare what sin is, I shewed before that it manifesteth the greatness and vileness thereof; as Paul writeth, it condemneth sin, and delivereth nor from sin: “ by the law (saith he) is the knowledge of sin. The law worketh wrath: through the law sin is made exceedingly sinful.” (Rom. vii.) “ The sting of death is sin : but the strength of sin is the law.” (1 Cor. xv.) In men that be addicted unto the pleasure of this world, the law hath not this use, say the preacher what he list. Let the word of God threaten death eternal for sin, it availeth not. He thinketh that God is asleep, and will at last be satisfied with some trifle as an offering for sin. We shall find the contrary to our great pain, as others have before our time, that would not believe the word, till they felt the
vengeance and punishment of God; as Cain, the drowned world with the flood, the burning of Sodom, with others. It is a great and horrible offence to hide or extenuate the judgment of God against sin, and the voice of the law, that condemneth the same. God willeth his pleasure to be known openly: (Jer. i.) “ Lo! I have put my words in thy mouth: behold I have set thee over nations, that thou mayest root out and destroy.”
This use and office of the law none feeleth neither perceiveth so well as such as be God's friends, Adam, Abraham, Jacob, David, Hezechiah, &c. David said that the fear of God's displeasure and ire was no less pain unto him than though the fierce lion had rent and dismembered his body in pieces, “as a lion hath broken all my bones.” (Ps. xxii.) So saith Paul, “ O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” He before said, “Once I lived without the law,” i. e. “I was secure, not feeling the wrath of God.” But now being converted from a Pharisee to be an Apostle, and brought to a knowledge of himself, he confesseth his imbecility and faults, and saith, “I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, there dwelleth no good thing." Yet Paul confesseth, that the law maketh us not afraid to be damned because we cannot satisfy it, but that we should come to Christ with these comfortable words: “ He hath concluded all under sin, that he might have mercy upon all:” a great consolation for every troubled conscience!
Thus man may know himself to be, as he is, a very wretched and damnable creature, were it not for the virtue of Christ's death.