It is the demand of nature itself, “What shall we do to have eternal life?” The desire of immortality and of the knowledge of that whereby it may be attained, is so natural unto all men, that even they which are not persuaded that they shall, do notwithstanding wish that they might, know a way how to see no end of life. And because natural means are not able still to resist the force of death, there is no people in the earth so savage, which hath not devised some supernatural help or other, to fly unto for aid and succour in extremities, against the enemies of their lives. A longing therefore to be saved, without understanding the true way how, hath been the cause of all the superstitions in the world. O that the miserable state of others, which wander in darkness, and wot not whither they go, could give us understanding hearts, worthily to esteem the riches of the mercies of God towards us, before whose eyes the doors of the kingdom of heaven are set wide open! Should we not offer violence unto it? It offereth violence to us, and we gather strength to withstand it. (Richard Hooker, A Learned Discourse of Justification, Works, and How the Foundation of Faith is Overthrown)
Category: Grace and Life
They be not all faithless that are either weak in assenting to the truth, or stiff in maintaining things any way opposite to the truth of Christian doctrine. But as many as hold the foundation which is precious, though they hold it but weakly, and as it were by a slender thread, although they frame many base and unsuitable things upon it, things that cannot abide the trial of the fire; yet shall they pass the fiery trial and be saved, which indeed have builded themselves upon the rock, which is the foundation of the Church. (Hooker, Learned Discourse)
Our very virtues may be snares unto us. The enemy that waiteth for all occasions to work our ruin, hath ever found it harder to overthrow an humble sinner, than a proud saint. There is no man’s case so dangerous as his, whom Satan hath persuaded that his own righteousness shall present him pure and blameless in the sight of God.
From a sermon preached by Richard Hooker on March 28, 1585, entitled A Learned Discourse of Justification, Works, and How the Foundation of Faith is Overthrown:
It is our wisdom, and our comfort; we care for no knowledge in the world but this, That man hath sinned, and God hath suffered; that God hath made himself the sin of men, and that men are made the righteousness of God.
“If, then, dread of God, and hatred of God, be the cause of all our sins, how shall we be cured of the love of sin, but by taking away the cause? How do you most effectually kill the noxious weed? is it not by striking at the root? In the love of Christ to man, then – in that strange unspeakable gift of God, when he laid down his life for his enemies – when he died the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God – do not you see an object which, if really believed by the sinner, takes away all his dread and all his hatred of God? The root of sin is severed from the stock. In His bearing double for all our sins, we see the curse carried away – we see God reconciled. Why should we fear any more? Not fearing, why should we hate God any more? Not hating God, what desirableness can we see in sin any more? Putting on the righteousness of Christ, we are again placed as Adam was – with God as our friend. We have no object in sinning; and, therefore, we do not care to sin. In the 6th chapter of Romans, Paul seems to speak of the believer sinning, as if the very proposition was absurd: ‘How shall we that are dead to sin’ – that is, who in Christ have already borne the penalty – ‘how shall we live any longer therein?’ And again he saith very boldly: ‘Sin shall not have dominion over you’ – it is impossible in the nature of things – ‘for ye are not under the law, but under grace’ ye are no longer under the curse of a broken law, dreading and hating God; ye are under grace – under a system of peace and friendship with God.
“But is there anyone ready to object to me, that if these things be so – if nothing more than that a man be brought into peace with God is needful to a holy life and conversation – how comes it that believers do still sin? I answer, It is indeed too true that believers do sin; but it is just as true that unbelief is the cause of their sinning. If, brethren, you and I were to live with our eye so closely on Christ bearing double for all our sins – freely offering to all a double righteousness for all our sins; and if this constant view of the love of Christ maintained within us – as assuredly it would, if we looked with a straight forward eye – the peace of God which passeth all understanding – the peace that rests on nothing in us, but upon the completeness that is in Christ – then, brethren, I do say, that frail and helpless as we are, we should never sin – we should not have the slightest object in sinning. But, ah! my friends, this is not the way with us. How often in the day is the love of Christ quite out of view! How often is it obscured to us – sometimes hid from us by God himself, to teach us what we are. How often are we left without the real sense of the completeness of his offering – the perfectness of his righteousness, and without the will or the confidence to claim an interest in him! Who can wonder, then, that, where there is so much unbelief, dread and hatred of God should again and again creep in, and sin should often display its poisonous head? The matter is very plain, brethren, if only we had spiritual eyes to see it. If we live a life of faith on the Son of God, then we shall assuredly live a life of holiness. I do not say, we ought to do so; but I say we shall, as a matter of necessary consequence. But, in as far as we do not live a life of faith, in so far we shall live a life of unholiness. It is through faith that God purifies the heart; and there is no other way.” (Robert Murray M’Cheyne, “The Love of Christ”)
This is the last of the Cranmer collects to close out the Christian year:
“Stir up we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people, that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee, be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
“Lord we beseech thee, absolve thy people from their offences, that through thy bountiful goodness we may be delivered from the bands of all those sins, which by our frailty we have committed: Grant this, &c.”
Here are several Cranmer collects for the late weeks of the Trinity season, prior to the final two Lord’s Days of the Christian year:
“Almighty and merciful God, of thy bountiful goodness, keep us from all things that may hurt us; that we, being ready both in body and soul, may with free hearts accomplish those things that thou wouldest have done; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
“Grant we beseech thee, merciful Lord, to thy faithful people pardon and peace, that they may be cleansed from all their sins, and serve thee with a quiet mind. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
“Lord we beseech thee to keep thy household the church in continual godliness; that through thy protection it may be free from all adversities, and devoutly given to serve thee in good works, to the glory of thy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
“God, our refuge and strength, which art the author of all godliness, be ready to hear the devout prayers of thy church; and grant that those things which we ask faithfully we may obtain effectually; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
“O God, for as much as without thee, we are not able to please thee; Grant that the working of thy mercy may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Amazing how beautifully this collect relates to the message I’m preaching this morning from Nehemiah 4!
“Lord we beseech thee, grant thy people grace to avoid the infections of the Devil, and with pure heart and mind to follow thee the only God; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”