The first English New Testament from the original tongues( W. T. )

Prologues to the New Testament
translated by W. T. (1525-6 w/1535v.)


The Prologue from the Cologne quarto 1525


Colophon to the Octavo edition of 1526


W. T. vnto the Reader. (1534)


W.T. TO THE READER. (1530)

The Prologue to the Pistel of Paul to the Romans
The Prologue upon the First Pistel off S. Paul to the Corinthians
The Prologue upon the Second Pistel off S. Paul to the Corinthians
The Prologue upon the Pistel off S. Paul unto the Galatians
The Prologue upon the Pistel off S. Paul to the Ephesians
The Prologue upon the Pistel off S. Paul to the Philippians
The Prologue upon the Pistel off S. Paul to the Colossians
A Prologue to the First Pistel off S. Paul to the Thessalonians
The Prologue to the Second Pistel off S. Paul to the Thessalonians
The Prologue upon the First Pistel off S. Paul to Timothy
The Prologue upon the First Pistel off S. Paul to Timothy
The Prologue unto the Pistel off S. Paul to Titus
The Prologue to the Pistel off S. Paul unto Philemon
A Prologue to the First Pistel off S. Peter
A Prologue to the Second Pistel off S. Peter
A Prologue to the Three Pistels off S. John
The Prologue to the Pistel off S. Paul to the Hebrews
The Prologue to the Pistels off Saints James and Jude

Leaf {Lesse} filled withall



(Proloque from the Cologne quarto 1525.)

The Prologue.

††† I have here translated (brethren and sisters most dear and tenderly beloved in Christ) the new Testament for your spiritual edifying, consolation and solace: Exhorting instantly and beseeching those that are better seen in the tongues than I, and that have higher gifts of grace to interpret the sense of the Scripture, and meaning of the Spirit, than I, to consider and ponder my labor, and that with the spirit of meekness. And if they perceive in any places that I have not attained the very sense of the tongue, or meaning of the Scripture, or have not given the right English word, that they put to their hands to amend it, remembering that so is their duty to do. For we have not received the gifts of God for ourselves only, or for to hide them; but for to bestow them unto the honoring of God and Christ, and edifying of the congregation, which is the body of Christ.

††† The causes that moved me to translate, I thought better that others should imagine, then that I should rehearse them.Moreover I supposed it superfluous, for who is so blind tare why light should be shewed to them that walk in darkness, where they cannot but stumble, and where to stumble is the danger of eternal damnation, other so despiteful that he would envy any man (I speak not his brother) so necessary a thing, or so bedlam made to affirm that good is the natural cause of blindness, and deafness to proceed out of sight, and that lying should be grounded in troth and verity, and not rather seen contrary, that light destroyeth darkness, and verity reproveth all manner saying.

†† After it had pleased God to put in my mind, and also to give me grace to translate this fore rehearsed new testament into our English tongue, howsoever we have done it. I supposed it very necessary to put you in remembrance of certain points, which are: that ye well understand what these words mean:
The old testament.
The new testament.
The law.
The gospell.
Worshipping and believing.
Deeds and faith;
Lest we ascribe, to the one that which belongeth to the other, and make of Christ Moses, of the gospell the Law, despise grace and rob faith: and fall from meek learning unto idle despicions, brawlingand scolding about words.

††††††††† ((The old testament.))

††† The old testament is a base, where in is written the law and commandments of God, and the deeds of them which fulfill them, and of them also which fulfilleth them not.

††††††††† ((The new testament))

††† The new testament is a base where in are contained the promises of God, and the deeds of them which believe them or believe them not.

††††††††† ((The gospell or evangelion))

††† Evangelion (that we call the gospell) is a Greek word; and signifieth good, merry, glad and joyful tidings, that maketh a man's heart glad, and maketh him sing, dance, and leap for joy. As when David had killed Goliah the giant, came glad tidings unto the jewes, that their fearful and cruel enemy was slain, and they delivered out of all danger: for gladness whereof, they sung, danced, and were joyful. In like manner is the Evangelion of God (which we call Gospel; and the New Testament) joyful tidings; and as some say, a good hearing published by the apostles throughout all the world, of Christ the right David how that he hath fought with sin, with death, and the devil, and overcome them. Whereby all men that were in bondage to sin, wounded with death, overcome of the devil, are with out their own merits or deservings, loosed, justified, restored to life, and saved, brought to liberty, and reconciled unto the favour of God, and set at one with him again: which tidings as many as believe, laud praise and thank God; are glad, sing and dance for joy.

††††††††† ((with evangelion is called a testament))

††† This evangelion or gospell (that is to say, such joyful tidings) is called the new testament. Because that as a man when he shall die appointeth his goods to be dealt and distributed after his death among them which he nameth to be his heirs. Even so Christ before his death commanded and appointed that such evangelion, gospell, or tidings should be declared through out all the world, and there with to give unto all that believe all his goods, that is to say, his life, where with he swallowed and devoured up death: his righteousness, where with he banished sin: his salvation, where with he overcame eternal damnation.Now can the wretched man (that is wrapped in sin, and is in danger to death and hell) hear no more joyous a thing, then such glad and comfortable tidings, of Christ.So that he cannot but be glad and laugh from the low bottom of his heart, if he believe that the tidings are true.

††† To strength such faith with all, God promised this his evaglion in the old testament by the prophets (as Paul sayth in the first chapter unto the romans). How that he was chosen out to preach God's evangelion, which he before had promised by the prophets in the holy scriptures that treat of his son which was born of the seed of David.In the third chapter of Genesis, God saith to the serpent: I will put hatred between thee and the woman, between thy seed and her seed, that self seed shall tread thy head under foot. Christ is this woman's seed, he it is that hath trodden under foot the devil's seed, that is to say sin, death, hell, and all his power. For with out this seed can no man avoid sin, death, hell and everlasting damnation.

††† Again Gen. xxij. God promised Abraham saying: by thy seed shall all the generations of the earth be blessed. Christ is that seed of Abraham sayth saint Paul in the third to the Galathyans: He hast blessed all the world through the gospell.For where Christ is not, there remaineth the curse that fell on Adam as soon as he had sinned; So that they are in bondage under the domination of sin, death, and hell.Against this curse blesseth now the gospell all the world, in as much as it crieth openly, who so ever believeth on the seed of Abraham shall be blessed, that is, he shall be delivered from sin, death and hell, and shall hence forth continue righteous, living, and saved for ever, as Christ him self saith (in the xi. of Ihon) He that believeth on me shall never more die.

††† The law (saith the gospell off Ihon in the first chapter) was given by Moses: but grace and verity by Iesus Christ. The law (whose mnistrer is Moses) was given to bring us unto the knowledge of our selves, that we might there by feel and perceive what we are of nature. The law condemneth us and all our deeds, and is called of Paul (in the third chap. Of the second pistel unto the Corrinthians) the ministration of death. For it killeth our consciences and driveth us to desperation, in as much as it requireth of us that which is unpossible for us to do. It requireth of us the death of an whole, man.It requireth perfect love from the low bottom and ground of the heart, as well in all things which we suffer, as in those things which we do. But saith Ihon (in the same place) grace and verity is given us in Christ. So that when the law hath passed upon us, and condemned us to death (which is his nature to do) then have we in Christ grace, that is to say favour, promises of life, of mercy, of pardon freely by the merits of Christ, and in Christ have we verity and troth, in that God fulfilleth all his promises to them that believe. Therefore is the gospell the ministration of life. Paul calleth it, in the fore rehearsed place of the second chap. To the Cor. The ministration of the spirit, and of righteousness. In the gospell when we believe the promises, we receive the spirit of life, and are justified in the blood of Christ from all things where of the law condemned us. Of Christ it is written in the fore rehearsed first chapter of Ihon: This is he of whose abundance, or fullness, all we have received, grace for grace, or favour for favour. That is to say, for the favour that God hath to his son Christ, he giveth unto us his favour, and good will, as a father to his sons. As affirmeth Paul saying: which loved us in his beloved before the creation of the world. For the love that God hath to Christ, he loveth us, and not for our own faith. Christ is made lord over all, and is called in scripture God's mercyforetold whosoever flyeth to Christ, can neither bear nor receive of God any other thing save mercy.

††† In the old testament are many promises, which are nothing else but the evangelion or gospell, to save those that believed them, from the vengeance of the law. And in the new testament is oft made mention of the law, to condemn them, which believe not the promises. Moreover the law and gospell may never be separate: for the gospell and promises serve but for troubled consciences which are brought to desperation and feel the pains of hell and death under the law, and are in captivity and bondage under the law. In all my deeds I must have the law before me to condemn mine unperfections. For all that I do (be I never so perfect) is yet damnable sin, when it is compared to the law, which requireth the ground and bottom of mine heart. I must therefore have always the law in my sight, that I may be meek in the spirit, and give God all the laud and praise, ascribing to him all righteousness, and to my self all unrigteousness and sin. I must also have the promises before mine eyes, that I despair not, in which promises I see the mercy, favour, and good will of God upon me in the blood of his son Christ, which hath made satisfaction for mine unperfections, and fulfilled from me, that which I could not do.

††† Here may ye perceive that two manner of people are sore deceived. First they which justify them self with outward deeds, in that they abstain outwardly from that which the law forbiddeth, and do outwardly that which the law commandeth. They compare them selves to open sinners and in respect of them justify them selves condemning the open sinners. They see not how the law requireth love from the bottom of the heart. If they did they would not condemn their neighbours. Love hideth the multitude of sins, saith Saynct Peter in his first pistel. For whom I love from the deep bottom and ground of mine heart, him condemn I not, neither reckon his sins, but suffer his weakness and infirmity, as a mother the weakness of her son, until he grow up in to a perfect man.

††† Those also are deceived which with out all fear of God give them selves unto all manner vices with full consent, and full delectation, having no respect to the law of God (under whose vengeance they are locked up in captivity) but say: god is merciful and christ died for us, supposing that such dreaming and imagination is that faith which is so greatly commended in holy scripture. Nay that is not faith, but rather a foolish opinion springing of their own nature, and is not given them of the spirit of God. True faith is (as saith the apostle Paul) the gift of God and is given to sinners after the law hath passed upon them and hath brought their consciences unto the brim of desperation, and sorrows of hell.

††† They that have this right faith, consent to the law that it is righteous and good, and justify God which made the law, and have delectation in the law (not with stonding that they can not fulfill it, for their weakness) and they abhor what soever the law forbiddeth, though they cannot avoid it. And their great sorrow is, because they cannot fulfill the will of God in the law, and the spirit that is in them crieth to God night and day for strength and help with tears (as saith Paul) that cannot be expressed with tongue.

††††††††((A justiciary))

††† The first, that is to say a justiciary, which justifieth him self with his outward deeds, cosenteth not to the law in ward, neither hath delectation therein, yee, he would rather that no such law were. So justifieth he not God, but hateth him as a tyrant, neither careth he for the promises, but will with his own strength be favour of him self: no wise glorifieth he God, though he seem outward to do.

††††††††† ((A sensual man))

††† The second, that is to say the sensual person, as a voluptuous swine, neither feareth God in his law, neither is thankful to him for his promises and mercy, which is set forth in Christ to all them that believe.

††††††††† ((A Christen man.))

††† The right Christen man consenteth to the law that it is righteous, and justifieth God in the law, for he affirmeth that God is righteous and just, which is author of the law, he believeth the promises of God, and so justifieth God, judging him true and believing that he will fulfill his promises. With the law he condemneth him self and all his deeds, and giveth all the praise to God. He believeth the promises, and ascribeth all troth to god, thus every where justifieth he God, and praiseth God.

††††††††† ((Nature.))

††† By nature through the fall of Adam, are we the children of wrath, heirs of the vengeance of God by birth, yee and from our conception, we have our fellowship with the damned devils under the power of darkness and rule of satan, while we are yet in our mother's wombs, though we shew not forth the fruits of sin, yet are we full of the natural poison where of all sinful deeds spring, and cannot but sin outwards (be we never so young) if occasion be given, for our nature is to do sin, as is the nature of a serpent to sting. And as a serpent yet young, or yet un-brought forth is full of poison, and cannot afterward (when the time is come and occasion given) but bring forth the fruits there of. And as an edder, a toad, or a snake is hated of man, (not for the evil that it hath done, but for the poison that is in it and hurt which it cannot but do) So are we hated of God for that natural poison which is conceived and born with us, before we do any outward evil. And as the evil, which a venomous worm doeth, maketh it not a serpent: but be cause it is a venomous worm. Therefore doeth it evil and poisoneth. And as the fruit maketh not the tree evil: but because it is an evil tree, therefore bringeth it forth evil furit, when the season of fruit is. Even so do not our evil deeds make us evil: but because that of nature we are evil, therefore we both think and do evil, and are under vengeance, under the law, convicted to eternal damnation by the law, and are contrary to the will of God in all our will, and in all things consent to the will of the land.

††† By grace (that is to say by favour) we are plucked out of Adam the ground of all evil, and grafted in Christ the root of all goodness. In Christ God loved us his elect and chosen, before the world began, and referred us unto the knowledge of his son and of his holy gospell, and when the gospell is preached to us he openeth our hearts, and giveth us grace to believe and putteth the spirit of Christ in us, and we know him as our father most merciful, and consent to the law, and love it inwardly in our heart, and desire to fulfill it, and sorrow because we cannot, which will (sin we of frailty never so much) is sufficient till more strength be given us, the blood of Christ hath made satisfaction for the rest: the blood of Christ hath obtained all things for us of God. Christ is our satisfaction, redeemer, deliverer, saviour from vengeance and wrath. Observe and mark in the pistels of Paul, and Peter, and the gospell and pistels of Ihon what Christ is unto us.

††††††††† ((faith, love, works))

††† By faith are we never with out love and good works, yet is our saving imputed neither to love nor unto good works, but unto faith only. For love and works are under the law which requireth perfection, and the ground and fountain of the heart, and damneth all imperfections. Now is faith under the promises, which damn not: but give all grace, mercy and favour, and whatsoever is contained in the promises.

††††††††† ((Righteousness other wise justifying or justice))

††† Righteousness is divers; Blind reason imagineth many matter of righteousnesses. As the just ministration of all manner of laws, and the observing of them, and moral virtues were in philosophers put their felicity and blessedness, which all are nothing in the sight of God. There is in like manner the justifying of ceremonies, some imagine them their own selves, some counterfeit other, saying in their blind reason: such holy persons did thus and thus, and they were holy men, therefore if I do so like wise I shall please God: but they have none answer of God, that that pleaseth. The jewes seek righteousness in their ceremonies which God gave unto them, not for to justify: but to describe and paint Christ unto them, of which jewes testifieth Paul saying how that they have affection to God: but not after knowledge, for they go about to stablish their own justice, and are not obedient to the justice or righteousness that cometh of God. The cause is verily, that except a man cast away his own imagination and reason, he cannot perceive God, and understand the virtue and power of the blood of Christ. There is the righteousness of works (as I said before) when the heart is away, they feel not how the law is spiritual and cannot be fulfilled, but from the bottom of the heart. There is a full righteousness, when the law is fulfilled from the ground of the heart. This had neither Peter nor Paul in this life perfectly: but sighed after it. They were so far forth blessed in Christ, that they hungered and thirsted after it. Paul had this thirst, he consented to the law of God, that it ought so to be, but he found an other lust in his members contrary to the lust and desire of his mind, and therefore cried out saying: Oh wretched man that I am: who shall deliver me from this body of death, thanks be to God thorow Iesus Christ. The righteousness that before God is of value, is to believe the promises of God, after the law hath confounded the conscience. As when the temporal law oft times condemneth the thief or murderer and bringeth him to execution, so that he saith nothing before him but present death, and then cometh good tidings, a charter from the King and delivereth him. Likewise when God's law hath brought the sinner into knowledge of him self, and hath confounded his conscience, and opened unto him the wrath and vengeance of God, then cometh good tidings, the Evangelion sheweth unto him the promises of God in Christ, and how that Christ hath purchased pardon for him hath satisfied the law for him, and appeased the wrath of God, and the poor sinner believeth, laudeth and thanketh God, thorow Christ, and breaketh out into exceeding inward joy and gladness, for that he hath escaped so great wrath, so heavy vengeance, so fearful and so everlasting a death, and he hence forth is an hungered, and at thirst after more righteousness, that he might fulfill the law, and mourneth continually commending his weakness unto God in the blood of our saviour Christ Iesus.

††††††† Here shall ye see compendiously and plainly set out
††††††† the order and practice of every thing afore rehearsed.

††††††††††††(Adam bringeth us to bondage.)

††† The fall of Adam hath made us heirs of the vengeance and wrath of God, and heirs of eternal damnation; And hath brought us into captivity and bondage under the devil; And the devil is our lord, and our ruler, our head, our governor, our prince, yee and our god. And our will is locked and knit faster unto the will of the devils, then cond an hundred thousand chains bind a man unto a post. Unto the devils' will consent we, with all our hearts, with all our minds, with all our might, power, strength, will and lust. With what poisoned, deadly, and venomous hate, hateth a man his enemy; With how great malice of mind inwardly do we slay and murder; With what violence and rage, ye and with how fervent lust commit we advoutry, fornication, and such like uncleanness: with what pleasure and delectation inwardly serveth a glutton his belly; With what diligence deceive we; How busily seek we things of the world; Whatsoever we do, think, or imagine, is abominable in the sight of God. And we are as it were asleep in so deep blindness, that we can neither see, nor feel in what misery, thralldom, and wretchedness we are in, till Moses come and wake us, and publish he the law. When we hear the law truly preached, how that we ought to love and honour God with all our strength and might, from the low bottom of the heart: and our neighbours (yee our enemies.) as our selves inwardly from the ground of the heart, and to do whatsoever God biddeth, and abstain from whatsoever God forbiddeth, with all love and meekness, with a fervent and a burning lust, from the center of the heart, then beginneth the conscience to rage against the law, and against God; No less (be it never so great a tempest) is so unquiet. It is not possible for a natural man to consent to the law, that it should be good, or that God should be righteous, which maketh the law. Man's wit, reason, and will, are so fast glued, yee nailed and chained unto the will of the devil. Neither can any creature lowse the bonds, save the blood of Christ.

††††††††††††† (( Christ letteth us at liberty ))

††† This is the captivity and bondage whence Christ delivered us, redeemed, and lowsed us. His blood, his death, his patience, in suffering rebukes and wrongs, his prayers and fastings, his meekness and fulfilling of the utmost point of the law, appeased the wrath of God, brought the favor of God to us again, obtained that God should love us first, and be our father, and that a merciful father, that will consider our infirmities and weakness, and will give us his spirit again (which was taken away in the fall of Adam) to rule govern and strength us, and to break the bonds of Satan, where in we were so strait bound.

††††††††††††† ((The evangleion bringeth faith, faith bringeth love: love worketh))

When Christis thus wise preached, and the promises rehearsed, which are contained in the prophets, in the psalms, and in divers places of the five books of Moses: then the hearts of them which are elect and chosen, begin to meek soft, and to melt at the bounteous mercy of God, and kindness shewed of Christ. For when the evangelion is preached, the spirit of God entereth in to them which God hath ordained and appointed unto eternal life, and openeth there inward eyes, and worketh such belief in them.

When the wofull consciences feel and taste how sweet a thing the bitter death of Christ is, and how merciful and loving God is through Christ's purchasing and merits; They begin to love again, and to consent to the law of God, how that it is good, and ought so to be, and that God is righteous which made it; And desire to fulfill the law, even as a sick man desireth to be whole, and are anhungered, and athirst after more righteousness, and after more strength, to fulfill the law more perfectly. And in all that they do, or omit and leave undone, they seek God's honour, and his will with meekness, ever condemning the unperfectness of their deeds by the law.

††††††††† ((Christ bringeth all goodness freely, and giveth an ensample how to be stow in godly.))

††† Now Christ stondeth us in double sted, and serveth us two manner ways. First he is our redeemer, deliverer, reconciler, mediator, intercessor, advocate, attorney, solicitor, our hope, comfort, shield, protection, defender, strength, health, satisfaction, and salvation. His blood, his death, all that he ever did, is ours. And Christ him self, with all that he is or can do, is ours. His blood sheding and all that he did, doeth me as good service, as though I my self had done it. And God (as great as he is) is mine with all that he hath, thorow Christ and his purchasing.

††† Secondarily after that we be overcome with love and kindness, and now seek to do the will of God (which is a christen man's nature) Then have we Christe an ensample to counterfeit, as saith Christ him self in Ihon: I have given you an ensample. And in an other evangelist, he saith; He that will be great among you shall be your servant and minister, as the son of man came to minister and not to be ministered onto.

††††† ††††((Faith receiveth of God, and love bestoweth the same on his neighbour.))

And Paul saith: Counterfeit Christ. And Peter saith: Christ died for you, and left you an ensample to follow his steps. Whatsoever therefore faith hath received of God thorow Christ's blood and deserving, that same must love shed out everywhere, and bestow it on our neighbours unto their profit, yee and that though they be our enemies. By faith we receive of God, and by love we shed out again. And that must we do freely after the ensample of Christ with out any other respect, save our neighbour's wealth only, and neither look for reward in earth, nor yet in heaven for our deeds: but of pure love must we bestow ourselves, all that we have, and all that we are able to do, even on our enemies to bring them to God, considering nothing but their wealth, as Christ did ours.

†††† ((A true christyn man believeth that heaven is his already by Christ's purchasing,
†††† And therefore loveth, and worketh, to honour God only, and to draw all things to God.))

Christ did not his deeds to obtain heaven thereby (that had been a madness) heaven was his already, he was heir thereof, it was his by inheritance: but did them freely for our sakes, considering no thing but our wealth, and to bring the favour of God to us again, and us to God. As no natural son that is his father's heir, doeth his father's will because he would be heir, that he is already by birth: his father gave him that yer he was born, and is lothther that he should go with out it, then he himself hath wit to be: but of pure love doeth he that he doeth. And ask him why he doeth any thing that he doeth, he answereth: my father bade, it is my father's will, it pleaseth my father. Bond servants work for hire, Children for love. For their father with all he hath, is theirs already. So doeth a christen man freely all that he doeth, considereth nothing but the will of God, and his neighbour's wealth only. If I live chaste, I do it not to obtain heaven thereby. For then should I do wrong to the blood of Christ: Christ's blood hath obtained me that, Christ's merits have made me heir thereof. He is both door and way thither wards. Neither that I look for an heir room in heaven, then they shall have which live in wedlock, other then a hoar of the stews (if she repent) for that were the pride of lucifer: But freely to wait on the evangelion, and to serve my brother with all, even as one hand helpeth another, or one member another, because one feeleth another's grief, and the pain of the one is the pain of the other. Whatsoever is done to the least of us (whether it be good or bad) it is done to Christ. And whatsoever is done to my brother (if I be a christen man) that same is done to me: neither doeth my brother's pain grieve me less then mine own. If it were not so: how saith Paul: let him that rejoiceth, rejoice in the Lord: that is to say Christ, which is lord over all creatures. If my merits obtained me heaven, or an higher room there, then had I where in I might rejoice besides the Lord.

††††††† ††((To bynd and lowse.))

††† Here see ye the nature of the law, and the nature of the evangelion. How the Law bindeth and damneth all men, and the Evangelion lowseth them again. The law goeth before, and the evangelion followeth. When a preacher preacheth the Law, he bindeth all consciences, and when he preacheth the Gospell, he loveth them again. These two salves (I mean the Law and the Gospell) useth God and his preacher to heal and cure sinners withall. The law driveth out the disease, and maketh it appear, and is a sharp salve, and a fretting coursey, and killeth the deed fleshly, and lowseth and draweth the sores out by the roots, and all corruption. It pulleth from a man the trust and confidence that he hath in him self, and in his own works, merits, deservings and ceremonies. It killeth him, sendeth him down to hell, and bringeth him to utter desperation, and prepareth the way of the lord, as it is written of Ihon the Baptist: for it is not possible that Christ should come to a man, as long as he trusteth in him self, or in any worldly thing. Then cometh the Evengelion, a more gentle plaster, which sowpleth, and swageth the wounds of the conscience, and bringeth health. It bringeth the spirit of God, which lowseth the honds of satan, and coupleth us to God and his will thorow strong faith and fervent love, with bonds too strong for the devil, the world, or any creature to lowse them.

††††††† ((A christen man feeleth the working of the holy ghost in his soul:
††††††† and in all tribulations and adversities fealeth God a merciful father and a loving.))

And the poor and wretched sinner feeleth so great mercy, love, and kindness in God, that he is sure in him self how that it is not possible that God should forsake him, or withdraw his mercy and love from him. And boldly crieth out with Paul saying: Who shall separate us from the love that God loveth us withall? That is to say: what shall make me believe that God loveth me not? Shall tribulation? Anguish? Persecution? Shall hunger? Nakedness? Shall a sword? Nay, I am sure that neither death, nor life, neither angel, neither rule, nor power, neither present things, nor things to come, neither high nor low, neither any creature able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Iesu our lord. In all such tribulations a Christen man perceiveth that God is his father, and loveth him, even as he loved Christ when he shed his blood on the cross. Finally, as before, when I was bond to the devil and his will, I wrought all manner evil and wickedness, not for hell's sake which is there ward of sin, but be cause I was heir of hell by birth and bondage to the devil, did I evil. For I would none other ways do; to do sin was my nature. Even so now since I am coupled to God by Christ's blood, do I well, not for heaven's sake: but be cause I am heir of Heaven by grace and Christ's purchasing, and have the spirit of God, I do good freely, for so is my nature. As a good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and an evil tree evil fruit. By the fruits shall ye know what the tree is: a man's deeds declare what he is within but make him neither good nor bad &c. We must be first evil yer we do evil, as a serpent is first poisoned yer he poison. We must be also good yer we do good yer we do good, as the fire must be first hot yer it warm any thing. Take an ensample. As those blind which are cured in the evangelion, could not see till Christ had given them sight; And deaf could not hear, till Christ had given them hearing; And those sick could not do the deeds of an whole man, till Christ had given them health: So can no man do good in his soul, till Christ have lowsed him out of the bonds of satan, and have given him where with to do good, yee and first have poured into him that self good thing which he sheddeth forth afterward on other. Whatsoever is our own is sin. Whatsoever is above that, is Christ's gift, purchase, doing, and working. He bought it of his father derely with his blood, yee with his most bitter death and gave his life for it. Whatsoever good thing is in us, that is given us freely with out our deserving or merits for Christ's blood's sake. That we desire to follow the will of God, it is the gift of Christ's blood. That we now hate the devil's will (where unto we were so fast locked, and could not but love it) is also the gift of Christ's blood, unto whom belongeth the praise and honour of our good deeds, and not unto us.


(Colophon to the 1526 Octavo edition.)

To the Reader.

††† Give diligence, reader (I exhort thee) that thou come with a pure mind, and, as the Scripture saith, with a single eye, unto the words of health and of eternal life, by the which (if we repent and believe them) we are born anew, created afresh, and enjoy the fruits of the blood of Christ. Which blood crieth not for vengeance, as the blood of Abel, but hath purchased life, love, favour, grace, blessing, and whatsoever is promised in the Scriptures, to them that believe and obey God, and stondeth between us and wrath, vengeance, curse, and whatsoever the Scripture threateneth against the unbelievers and disobedient, which resist, and consent not in their hearts to the law of God, that it is right, holy, just, and ought so to be.

††† Mark the plain and manifest places of the Scriptures, and in doubtful places see thou add no interpretation contrary to them; but (as Paul saith) let all be conformable and agreeing to the faith.

††† Note the difference of the Law and of the Gospell. The one asketh and requireth, the wother pardoneth and forgiveth. The one threateneth, the wother promiseth all good things to them that set their trust in Christ only. The gospell signifieth glad tidings, and is nothing but the promises of good things. All is not gospell that is written in the gospell book: for if the law were away, thou couldest not know what the gospell meant, even as thou couldest not see pardon, favour, and grace except the law rebuked thee, and declared unto thee thy sin, misdeed, and trespass.

††† Repent and believe the gospell, as saith Christ in the first of Mark. Apply alway the Law to thy deeds, whether thou find lust (1) in the bottom of thine heart to the law-ward, and so shalt thou no doubt repent, and feel in thyself a certain sorrow, pain, and grief to thine heart, because thou canst not with full lust do the deeds of the law. Apply the gospell that is to say the promises unto the deserving of Christ, and to the mercy of God and his trouth, and so shalt thou not despair, but shall feel God as a kind and a merciful father. And his spirit shall dwell in thee, and shall be strong in thee, and the promises shall be given thee at the last (though not by and by, lest thou shouldest forget thyself, and be negligent) and all threatenings shall be forgiven thee for Christ's blood's sake to whom commit thyself altogether without respect either of thy good deeds or of thy bad.

††† Them that are learned Christianly, I beseech: forasmuch as I am sure, and my conscience beareth me record, that of a pure intent, singly and faithfully I have interpreted it, as far forth as God gave me the gift of knowledge and understanding that the rudeness of the work now at the first time offend them not, but that they consider how that I had no man to counterfeit, neither was helped {holp} with English of any that had interpreted the same or such like things in the Scripture beforetime. Moreover, even very necessity and cumbrance (God is record) above strength which I will not rehearse, lest we should seem to boast ourselves caused that many things are lacking which necessarily are required. Count it as a thing not having his full shape, but as it were born before his time, even as a thing begun rather than finished. In time to come (if God have appointed us thereunto) we will give it his full shape, and put out if ought be added superfluously, and add to if ought be overseen thorow negligence, and will enforce to bring to compendiousness that which is now translated at the length, and to give light where it is required, and to seek in certain places more proper English, and with a table to expound the words which are not commonly used and shew how the Scripture useth many words which are otherwise understood of the common people, and to help with a declaration where one tongue taketh not another; and will endeavor ourselves, as it were, to seeth (2) it better, and to make it more apt for the weak stomachs; desiring them that are learned and able, to remember their duty, and to help thereunto, and to bestow unto the edifying of Christ's body (which is the congregation of them that believe) those gifts which they have received of God for the same purpose. The grace that cometh of Christ be with them that love him. Pray for us.

(1) "Lust" here is used in a good sense: eagerness to obey.

(2) "Seeth" means "boil, cook."




When I had translated the new testament, I added a pistel unto the latter end, in which I desired them that were learned to amend if ought were found amiss. But our malicious and wily hypocrites which are so stubborn and hard hearted in their wicked abominations that it is not possible for them to amend any thing at all (as we see by daily experience, when both their livings and doings are rebuked with the truth) say, some of them that it is impossible to translate the scripture into English, some that it is not lawful for the lay people to have it in their mother tongue, some, that it would make them all heretics, as it would no doubt from many things which they of long time have falsely taught, and that is the whole cause wherefore they forbid it, though they other cloaks pretend. And some or rather every one, say that it would make them rise against the king, whom they themselves (unto their damnation) never yet obeyed. And lest the temporal rulers should see their falsehood, if the scripture came to light, causeth them so to lie. And as for my translation in which they affirm unto the lay people (as I have heard say) to be I wot not how many thousand heresies, so that it cannot be mended or correct, they have yet taken so great pain to examine it, and to compare it unto that they would fain have it and to their own imaginations and juggling terms, and to have somewhat to rail at, and under that cloak to blaspheme the truth, that they might with as little labour (as I suppose) have translated the most part of the bible. For they which in times past were wont to look on no more scripture than they found in their Duns or such like devilish doctrine, have yet now so narrowly looked on my translation, that there is not so much as one i therein if it lack a tittle over his head, but they have noted it, and number it unto the ignorant people for an heresy. Finally in this they be all agreed, to drive you from the knowledge of the scripture, and that ye shall not have the text thereof in the mother tongue, and to keep the world still in darkness, to the intent they might sit in the consciences of the people, thorow vain superstition and false doctrine, to satisfy their filthy lusts, their proud ambition, and unsatiable covetousness, and to exalt their own honour above king and emperor, yea and above God himself.

    A thousand books had they lever to be put forth against their abominable doings and doctrine, than that the scripture should come to light. For as long as they may keep that down, they will so darken the right way with the mist of their sophistry, and so tangle them that either rebuke or despise their abominations with arguments of philosophy and with wordily {worldly} similitudes and apparent reasons of natural wisdom. And with wresting the scripture unto their own purpose clean contrary unto the process, order and meaning of the text, and so delude them in descanting upon it with allegories, and amaze them expounding it in many senses before the unlearned lay people (when it hath but one simple literal sense whose light the owls cannot abide) that though thou feel in thine heart and art sure how that all is false that they say, yet couldst thou not solve their subtle riddles.

    Which thing only moved me to translate the new testament. Because I had perceived by experience how that it was impossible to establish the lay people in any truth, except the scripture were plainly laid before their eyes in their mother tongue, that they might see the process, order, and meaning of the text: for else whatsoever truth is taught them, these enemies of all truth quench it again, partly with the smoke of their bottomless pit whereof thou readest Apocalypse ix.{9} that is, with apparent reasons of sophistry, and traditions of their own making, founded without ground of scripture, and partly in juggling with the text, expounding it in such a sense as is impossible to gather of the text, if thou see the process, order, and meaning thereof.

    And even in the bishop of London's house I intended to have done it. For when I was so turmoiled in the country where I was that I could no longer there dwell (the process whereof were too long here to rehearse) I this wise thought in myself, this I suffer because the priests of the country be unlearned, as God it knoweth there are a full ignorant sort which have seen no more Latin than that they read in their portesses and missals which yet many of them can scarcely read, (except it be Albertus de secretis mulierum in which yet, though they be never so sorrily learned, they pore day and night, and make notes therein and all to teach the midwives as they say, and Linwode a book of constitutions to gather tithes, mortuaries, offerings, customs, and other pillage, which they call, not theirs, but God's part and the duty of holy church, to discharge their consciences withall: for they are bound that they shall not diminish, but increase all things unto the uttermost of their powers) and therefore (because they are thus unlearned, thought I) when they come together to the ale house, which is their preaching place, they affirm that my sayings are heresy. And besides that they add to of their own heads which I never spake, as the manner is to prolong the tale to short the time withall, and accused me secretly to the chancellor and other the bishop's officers. And indeed, when I came before the chancellor, he threatened me grievously, and reviled me, and rated me as though I had been a dog, and laid to my charge whereof there could be none accuser brought forth, (as their manner is not to bring forth the accuser) and yet all the priests of the country were the same day there. As I this thought the bishop of London came to my remembrance whom Erasmus (whose tongue maketh of little gnats great elephants and lifteth up above the stars whosoever giveth him a little exhibition) praiseth exceedingly among other in his annotations on the new testament for his great learning. Then thought I, if I might come to this man's service, I were happy. And so I gat me to London, and, thorow the acquaintance of my master came to sir Harry Gilford, the king's grace's controller, and bought him an oration of Isocrates which I had translated out of Greek into English, and desired him to speak unto my lord of London for me, which he also did as he shewed me, and willed me to write a pistel to my lord, and to go to him myself which I also did, and delivered my pistel to a servant of his own, one William Hebylthwaite, a man of mine old acquaintance. But God which knoweth what is within hypocrites, saw that I was beguiled, and that that counsel was not the next way unto my purpose. And therefore he gat me no favour in my lord's sight.

    Whereupon my lord answered me, his house was full, he had more than he could well find, and advised me to seek in London, where he said I could not lack a service. And so in London I abode almost a year, and marked the course of the world, and heard our praters, I would say our preachers how they boasted themselves and their high authority, and beheld the pomp of our prelates, and how busied they were as they yet are, to set peace and unity in the world (though it be not possible for them that walk in darkness to continue long in peace, for they cannot but either stumble or dash themselves at one thing or another that shall clean unquiet all together) and saw things whereof I defer to speak at this time and understood at the last not only that there was no room in my lord of London's palace to translate the new testament, but also that there was no place to do it in all England, as experience doth now openly declare.

    Under what manner therefore should I now submit this book to be corrected and amended of them which can suffer nothing to be well? Or what protestation should I make in such a matter unto our prelates those stubborn Nimrods which so mightily fight against God, and resist his holy spirit, enforcing with all craft and subtlety to quench the light of the everlasting testament, promises, and appointment made between God and us: and heaping the fierce wrath of God upon all princes and rulers, mocking them with false feigned names of hypocrisy, and serving their lusts at all points, and dispensing with them even of the very laws of God, of which Christ himself testifieth, Matt. v.{5} that not so much as one tittle thereof may perish, or be broken. And of which the prophet saith, Psalm cxviij.{118} Thou hast commanded thy laws to be kept meod, that is in Hebrew exceedingly, with all diligence, might and power and have made them so mad with their juggling charms and crafty persuasions that they think it a full satisfaction for all their wicked lying, to torment such as tell them truth, and to burn the word of their souls' health, and slay whosoever believe thereon.

    Notwitstonding yet I submit this book and all other that I have either made or translated, or shall in time to come, (if it be God's will that I shall further labour in his harvest) unto all them that submit themselves unto the word of God, to be corrected of them, yea and moreover to be disallowed and also burnt, if it seem worthy when they have examined it with the Hebrew, so that they first put forth of their own translating another that is more correct.


A. M. D. & .xxxiiij. {1534} in the month of November.

W. T. vnto the Reader.

†† Here you have (most dear reader) the new testament or covenant made with us of God in Christ's blood. Which I have looked over again (now at last) with all diligence, and have weeded out of it many faults, which lack of help at the beginning, and oversight, did sow therein. If ought seem changed, or not altogether agreeing with the Greek, let the finder of the fault consider the Hebrew phrase or manner of speech left in the Greek words. Whose preterperfect tense and present tense is oft both one, and the future tense is the optative mode also, and the future tense is oft the imperative mode in the active voice, and in the passive ever. Likewise person for person, number for number, and an interrogation for a conditional, and such like is with the Hebrews a common usage.

††† I have also in many places set light in the margin to understand the text by. If any man find faults either with the translation or ought beside (which is easier for many to do, than so well to have translated it themselves of their own pregnant wits, at the beginning without fore-ensample) to the same it shall be lawful to translate it themselves and to put what they lust {wish} thereto. If I shall perceive either by myself or by the information of other, that ought be escaped me, or might be more plainly translated, I will shortly after, cause it to be mended. Howbeit in many places, me thinketh it better to put a declaration in the margin, than to run too far from the text and in many places, where the text seemeth at the first chop hard to be understood, yet the circumstances before and after, and often reading together, maketh it plain enough etc.

††† Moreover, because the kingdom of heaven, which is the scripture and word of God, may be so locked up, that he which readeth or heareth it, cannot understand it: as Christ testifieth how that the scribes and Pharisees had so shut it up (Matt. xxiij.{23}) and had taken away the key of knowledge (Luke xj.{11}) that their day that they can understand no sentence of the scripture unto their salvation, though they can rehearse the texts everywhere and dispute thereof as subtly as the popish doctors of dunceís dark learning, which with their sophistry, served us, as the Pharisees did the Jews. Therefore (that I might be found faithful to my father and Lord in distributing unto my brethren and fellows of one faith, their due and necessary food: so dressing it and seasoning it, that the weak stomachs may receive it also, and be the better for it) I thought it my duty (most dear reader) to warn thee before, and to shew thee the right way in, and to give thee the true key to open it withall, and to arm thee against false prophets and malicious hypocrites, whose perpetual study is to leaven the scripture with glosses, and there to lock it up where it should save thy soul, and to make us shoot at a wrong mark, to put our trust in those things that profit their bellies only and slay our souls.

††† ((The right way into the scripture))

††† The right way: yea and the only way to understand the scripture unto our salvation, is, that we earnestly and above all thing, search for the profession of our baptism or covenants made between God and us. As for an ensample: Christ saith (Matt. v.{5}) Happy are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Lo, here God hath made a covenant with us, to be merciful unto us, if we will be merciful one to another: so that the man which sheweth mercy unto his neighbour, may be bold to trust in God for mercy at all needs. And contrariwise, judgement without mercy, shall be to him that sheweth not mercy (Jas. ij.{2}). So now, if he that sheweth no mercy, trust in God for mercy, his faith is carnal and worldly, and but vain presumption. For God hath promised mercy only to the merciful. And therefore the merciless have not Godís word that they shall have mercy: but contrariwise, that they shall have judgement without mercy. And (Matt. vj.{6}) If ye shall forgive men their faults, your heavenly father shall forgive you: but and if ye shall not forgive men their faults, no more shall your father forgive you your faults. Here also by the virtue and strength of this may he that forgiveth his neighbour, be bold when he returneth and amendeth to believe and trust in God for remission of whatsoever he hath done amiss. And contrariwise, he that will not forgive, cannot but despair of forgiveness in the end, and fear judgement without mercy.

††† The general covenant wherein all other are comprehended and included, is this. If we meek ourselves to God, to keep all his laws, after the ensample of Christ: then God hath bound himself unto us to keep and make good all the mercies promised in Christ, thorow out all the scripture.

††† ((Law.))

††† All the whole law which was given to utter our corrupt nature, is comprehended in the ten commandments. And the ten commandments are comprehended in these two: love God and thy neighbour. And he that loveth his neighbour in God and Christ, fulfilleth these two, and consequently the ten, and finally all the other. Now if we love our neighbours in God and Christ: that is to weet, if we be loving, kind and merciful to them, because God hath created them unto his likeness, and Christ hath redeemed them and bought them with his blood, then may we be bold to trust in God thorow Christ and to shew us all mercy, and to be a father almighty to us, so that we shall not need to fear the power of all our adversaries.

††† Now if any man that submiteth not himself to keep the commandments, do think that he hath any faith in God: the same manís faith is vain, worldly, damnable, devilish and plain presumption, as it is above said, and is no faith that can justify or be accepted before God. And that is that James meaneth in his Pistel. For how can a man believe saith Paul, without a preacher (Rom. x.{10}) Now read all the scripture and see where God sent anyto preach mercy to any, save unto them only that repent and turn to God with all their hearts, to keep his commandments. Unto the disobedient that will not turn, is threatened wrath, vengeance and damnation, according to all the terrible curses and fearful ensamples of the Bible.

††† Faith now in God the father thorow our Lord Jesus Christ, according to the covenants and appointment made between God and us, is our salvation. Wherefore I have ever noted the covenants in the margins, and also the promises. Moreover where thou findest a promise and no covenant expressed therewith, there must thou understand a covenant. For all the promises of the mercy and grace that Christ hath purchased for us, are made upon the condition that we keep the law. As for an ensample: when the scripture saith (Matt. vij.{7}) Ask and it shall be given you: seek and ye shall find: knock and it shall be opened unto you. It is to be understood, if that when thy neighbour asketh, seeketh or knocketh to thee, thou then shew him the same mercy which thou desirest of God, then hath God bound himself to help thee again, and else not.

††† Also ye see that two things are required to begin a Christian man. The first is a steadfast faith and trust in almighty God, to obtain all the mercy that he hath promised us, thorow the deserving and merits of Christís blood only, without all respect to our own works. And the other is, that we forsake evil and turn to God, to keep his laws and to fight against ourselves and our corrupt nature perpetually, that we may do the will of God every day better and better.

††† This have I said (most dear reader) to warn thee, lest thou shouldest be deceived, and shouldest not only read the scriptures in vain and to no profit, but also unto thy greater damnation.

((What the nature of Godís word is.))

For the nature of Godís word is, that whosoever read it or hear it reasoned and disputed before him, it will begin immediately to make him every day better and better, till he be grown into a perfect man in the knowledge of Christ and love of the law of God: or else make him worse and worse, till he be hardened that he openly resist the spirit of God, and then blaspheme, after the ensample of Pharaoh, Coza, {Cora, Numbers xvi.(16)} Abiram, Balaam, Judas, Simon Magus and such other.

††† This to be even so, the words of Christ (John iij.{3}) do well confirm. This is condemnation saith he, the light is come into the world, but the men loved darkness more than light for their deeds were evil. Behold, when the light of Godís word cometh to a man, whether he read it or hear it preached and consenteth still unto his old deeds of ignorance: then beginneth his just damnation immediately, and he is henceforth without excuse: in that he refused such great mercy offered him. For God offereth him mercy upon the condition that he will mend his living: but he will not come under the covenant. And from that hour forward he waxeth worse and worse, God taking his spirit of mercy and grace from him for his unthankfulnessí sake.

††† And Paul writeth (Rom. j.{1}) that the heathen because when they knew God, they had no lust {longing} to honour him with godly living, therefore God poured his wrath upon them, and took his spirit from them and gave them up unto their heartsí lusts to serve sin, from iniquity to iniquity till they were thorow hardened and past repentance.

††† And Pharaoh, because when the word of God was in his country and Godís people scattered thorow out all his land, and yet neither loved them or it: therefore God gave him up, and in taking his spirit of grace from him so hardened his heart with covetousness, that afterward no miracle could convert him.

††† Hereto pertaineth the parable of the talents (Matt. xxv.{25}). The Lord commandeth the talent to be taken away from the evil and slothful servant and to bind him hand and foot and to cast him into utter darkness, and to give the talent unto him that had ten, saying:to all that have, more shall be given. But from him that hath not, that he hath shall be taken from him. That is to say, he that hath a good heart toward the word of God, and a set purpose to fashion his deeds thereafter and to garnish it with godly living and to testify it to other, the same shall increase more and more daily in the grace of Christ. But he that loveth it not, to live thereafter and to edify other, the same shall lose the grace of true knowledge and be blinded again and every day wax worse and worse and blinder and blinder, till he be an utter enemy of the word of God, and his heart so hardened, that it shall be impossible to convert him.

††† And (Luke xij.{12}) The servant that knoweth his masterís will and prepareth not himself, shall be beaten with many stripes: that is, shall have greater damnation. And (Matt. vij.{7}) all that hear the word of God and do not, thereafter build on sand: that is, as the foundation laid on sand cannot resist violence of water, but is undermined and overthrown, even so the faith of them that have no lust {desire} nor love to the law of God built upon the sand of their own imaginations, and not on the rock of Godís word according to his covenants, turneth to desperation in time of tribulation and when God cometh to judge.

††† And the vineyard (Matt. 21) planted and hired out to the husbandmen that would not render to the Lord, of the fruit in due time, and therefore was taken from them and hired out to other, doth confirm the same. For Christ saith to the Jews, the kingdom of heaven shall be taken from you and given to a nation that will bring forth the fruits thereof, as it is come to pass. For the Jews have lost the spiritual knowledge of God and of his commandments and also of all the scripture, so that they can understand nothing goldy. And the door is so locked up that all their knocking is in vain, though many of them take great pain for Godís sake. And (Luke 13) the fig tree that beareth no fruit is commanded to be plucked up.

††† And finally, hereto pertaineth with infinite other, the terrible parable of the unclean spirit (Luke 11) which after he is cast out, when he cometh and findeth his house swept and garnished, taketh to him seven worse than himself, and cometh and entereth in and dwelleth there, and so is the end of the man worse than the beginning. The Jews, they had cleansed themselves with Godís word, from all outward idolatry and worshipping of idols. But their hearts remained still faithless to Godward and toward his mercy and truth and therefore without love also and lust to his law, and to their neighbours for his sake, and thorow false trust in their own works (to which heresy, the child of perdition, the wicked bishop of Rome with his lawyers hath brought us Christians) were more abominable idolaters than before, and become ten times worse in the end than at the beginning. For the first idolatry was soon spied and easy to be rebuked of the prophets by the scripture. But the later is more subtle to beguile withall, and an hundred times of more difficulty to be weeded out of menís hearts.

††† This also is a conclusion, nothing more certain, or more proved by the testimony and ensamples of the scripture: that if any that favoureth the word of God, be so weak that he cannot chasten this flesh, him will the Lord chastise and scourge every day sharper and shaper, with tribulation and misfortune, that nothing shall prosper with him but all shall go against him, whatsoever he taketh in hand, and shall visit him with poverty, with sickness and diseases, and shall plague him with plague upon plague, eachmore loathsome, terrible and fearful than other, till he be at utter defiance with his flesh.

††† Let us therefore that have now at this time our eyes opened again thorow the tender mercy of God, keep a mean. Let us so put our trust in the mercy of God thorow Christ, that we know it our duty to keep the law of God and to love our neighbours for their fatherís sake which created them and for their Lordís sake which redeemed them, and bought them so dearly with his blood. Let us walk in the fear of God, and have our eyes open unto both parts of Godís covenants, certified that none shall be partaker of the mercy, save he that will fight against the flesh, to keep the law. And let us arm ourselves with this remembrance, that as Christís works justify from sin and set us in the favour of God, so our own deeds thorow working of the spirit of God, help us to continue in the favour and the grace, into which Christ hath brought us; and that we can no longer continue in favour and grace than our hearts are to keep the law.

††† Furthermore concerning the law of God, this is a general conclusion, that the whole law, where they be ceremonies, sacrifices, yea or sacraments either, or precepts of equity between man and man thorowout all degrees of the world, all were given for our profit and necessity only, and not for any need that God hath of our keeping them, or that his joy is increased thereby or that the deed, for the deed itself, doth please him. That is, all that God requireth of us when we be at one with him and do put our trust in him and love him, is that we love every man his neighbour to pity him and to have compassion on him in all his needs and to be merciful unto him. This to be even so, Christ testifieth (Matt. vij.{7}) saying: this is the law and the prophets. That is, to do as thou wouldest be done to (according I mean to the doctrine of the scripture) and not to do that thou wouldest not have done to thee, is all that the law requireth and the prophets.

((Love is the fulfilling of the law))

And Paul (to the Romans xiij.{13}) affirmeth also that love is the fulfilling of the law, and that he which loveth, doth of his own accord all that the law requireth. And (I Tm. i.{1}) Paul saith that the love of a pure heart and good conscience and faith unfeigned is the end and fulfilling of the law. For faith unfeigned in Christís blood causeth to love for Christís sake.Which love is the pure love only and the only cause of a good conscience. For then is the conscience pure, when the eye looketh to Christ in all her deeds, to do them for his sake and not for their own singular advantage or any other wicked purpose. And John both in his gospell and also pistels, speaketh never of any other law than to love one another purely, affirming that we have God himself dwelling in us and all that God desireth, if we love one the other.

††† Seeing then that faith to God and love and mercifulness to our neighbours, is all that the law requireth, therefore of necessity the law must be understood and interpreted by them. So that all inferior laws are to be kept and observed as long they be servants to faith and love: and then to be broken immediately, if thorow any occasion, they hurt either the faith which we should have to Godward in the confidence of Christís blood or the love which we owe to our neighbours for Christís sake.

††† And therefore when the blind Pharisees murmured and grudged at him and his disciples, that they brake the sabbath day and traditions of the elders, and that he himself did eat with publicans and sinners, he answereth (Matt. ix.{9}) alleging Esaias the prophet: go rather and learn what this meaneth, I require mercy and not sacrifice. And (Matt. xij.{12}) Oh that ye wist what this meaneth, I require mercy and not sacrifice.

((Love only understandeth the law.))

For only love and mercifulness understandeth the law, and else nothing. And he that hath not that written in his heart, shall never understand the law, no: though all the angels of heaven went about to teach him. And he that hath that graven in his heart, shall not only understand the law but also shall do of his own inclination all that is required of the law, though never law had been given: as all mothers do of themselves without law unto their children, all that can be required by any law, love overcoming all pain, grief, tediousness or loathsomeness: and even so no doubt if we had continued in our first state of innocency, we should ever have fulfilled the law, without compulsion of the law.

††† And because the law (which is a doctrine thorow teaching every man his duty, doth utter our corrupt nature) is sufficiently described by Moses, there≠fore is little mention made thereof in the new testament, save of love only wherein all the law is included, as seldom mention is made of the new testament in the old law, save here and there are promises made unto them, that Christ should come and bless them and deliver them, and that the gospell and new testament should be preached and published unto all nations.

††† ((Gospell.))

††† The gospell is glad tidings of mercy and grace and that our corrupt nature shall be healed again for Christís sake and for the merits of his deservings only:
Yet on the condition that we will turn to God, to learn to keep his laws spiritually, that is to say, of love for his sake, and will also suffer the curing of our infirmities.

††† ((New Testament.))

††† The new testament is as much to say as a new covenant. The old testament is an old temporal covenant made between God and the carnal children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob otherwise called Israel, upon the deeds and the observing of a temporal law. Where the reward of the keeping is temporal life and prosperity in the land of Canaan, and the breaking is rewarded with temporal death and punishment. But the new testament is an everlasting covenant made unto the children of God thorow faith in Christ, upon the deservings of Christ. Where eternal life is promised to all that believe, and death to all that are unbelieving. My deeds if I keep the law are rewarded with the temporal promises of this life. But if! believe in Christ, Christís deeds have purchased for me the eternal promise of the everlasting life. If I commit nothing worthy of death, I deserve to my reward that no man kill me: if I hurt no man I am worthy that no man hurt me. If! help my neighbour, I am worthy that he help me again etc. So that with outward deeds with which I serve other men, I deserve that other men do like to me in this world: and they extend no further. But Christís deeds extend to life everlasting unto all that believe etc. This be sufficient in this place concerning the law and the gospell, new testa≠ment and old: so that as there is but one God, one Christ, one faith and one baptism, even so thou understand that there is but one gospell, though many write it and many preach it. For all preach the same Christ and bring the same glad tidings. And thereto Paulís pistels with the gospell off John and his first pistel and the first pistel off saint Peter, are most pure gospell and most plainly and richly described the glory of the grace of Christ: If ye require more of the law, seek in the prologue to the Romans and in other places where it is sufficiently intreated of.


Concerning this word repentance or (as they used) penance, the Hebrew hath in the Old Testament generally Sobturn or be converted. For which the translation that we take for saint Jeromeís bath most part converti to turn or be converted, and sometime yet agere penitenciam. And the Greek in the New Testament hath perpetually metanoeo to turn in the heart and mind, and to come to the right knowledge, and to a manís right wit again. For which metanoeo S. Jeromeís translation hath: sometime ago penetenciam I do repent: sometime peniteo I repent: sometime peniteor I am repentant: sometime habeo penitenciam I have repentance: sometime penitet me it repenteth me. And Erasmus useth much this word resipisco I come to myself or to my right mind again. And the very sense and signification both of the Hebrew and also of the Greek word, is, to be converted and to turn to God with all the heart, to know his will and to live according to his laws, and to be cured of our corrupt nature with the oil of his spirit and wine of obedience to his doctrine. Which conversion or turning if it be unfeigned, these four do accompany it and are included therein: Confession, not in the priestís ear, for that is but manís invention, but to God in the heart and before all the congregation of God, how that we be sinners and sinful, and that our whole nature is corrupt and inclined to sin and all unrighteousness, and therefore evil, wicked and damnable, and his law holy and just, by which our sinful nature is rebuked: and also to our neighbours, if we have offended any person particularly. Then contrition, sorowfulness that we be such, damnable sinners, and not only have sinned but are wholly inclined to sin still. Thirdly faith (of which our old doctors have made no mention at all in the description of their penance) yet God for Christís sake doth forgive us and receive us to mercy, and is at one with us and will heal our corrupt nature. And fourthly satisfaction or amends-making, not to God with holy works, but to my neighbour whom I have hurt, and the congre≠gation of God whom I have offended, (if any open crime be found in me) and submitting of a manís self unto the congregation or church of Christ, and to the officers of the same, to have his life corrected and governed henceforth of them, according to the true doctrine of the church of Christ. And note this: that as satisfaction or amends-making is counted righteousness before the world and a purging of the sin, so that the world when I have made a full amends, hath no further to complain. Even so faith in Christís blood is counted right≠eousness and a purging of all sin before God.

Moreover, he that sinneth against his brother sinneth also against his father almighty God. And as the sin committed against his brother, is purged before the world with making amends or asking forgiveness, even so is the sin committed against God, purged thorow faith in Christís blood only. For Christ saith (John viij.{8}) except ye believe that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

That is to say, if ye think that there is any other sacrifice or satisfaction to Godward, than me, ye remain ever in sin before God, howsoever righteous ye appear before the world. Wherefore now, whether ye call this metanoia, re≠pentance, conversion or turning again to God, either amending and etc. or whether ye say repent, be converted, turn to God, amend your living or what ye lust, I am content so ye understand what is meant thereby, as I have now declared.


In the Old Testament the temporal heads and rulers of the Jews which had the governance over the lay or common people are called elders, as ye may see in the four evangelists. Out of which custom Paul in his pistel and also Peter, call the prelates and spiritual governors which are bishops and priests, elders. Now whether ye call them elders or priests, it is to me all one: so that ye understand that they be officers and servants of the word of God, unto the which all men both high and low that will not rebel against Christ, must obey as long as they preach and rule truly and no longer.

A prologue into the four Evangelists shewing what they were and their authority. And first off S. MATTHEW

As touching the evangelists: ye see in the New Testament clearly what they were. First Matthew (as ye read Matt. ix.{9}, Mark ij.{2}, Luke v.{5}) was one off Christís apostles, and was with Christ all the time of his preaching, and saw and heard his own self almost all that he wrote.


Of Mark read (Acts xij.{12}) how Peter (after he was loosed out of prison by the angel) came to Markís motherís house, where many of the disciples were praying for his deliverance. And Paul and Barnabas took him with them from Jerusalem and brought him to Antioch, (Acts xij.{12}). And (Acts xiij.{13}) Paul and Barnabas took Mark with them when they were sent out to preach: from whom he also departed, as it appeareth in the said chapter, and returned to Jerusalem again. And (Acts xv.{15}) Paul and Barnabas were at variance about him, Paul not willing to take him with them, because he forsook them in their first journey. Notwithstanding yet, when Paul wrote the pistel to the Colossians, Mark was with him, as he saith in the fourth chapter: of whom Paul also testifieth, both that he was Barnabasí sisterís son and also his fellow worker in the kingdom of God.

And (2 Tim. iiij.{4}) Paul commandeth Timothy to bring Mark with him, af≠firming that he was needful to him, to minister to him. Finally, he was also with Peter when he wrote his first pistel, and so familiar that Peter calleth him his son. Whereof ye see, of whom he learned his gospell, even of the very apostles, with whom he had his continual conversation, and also of what authority his writing is, and how worthy of credence.


Luke was Paulís companion, at the least way from the 16th chapter of Acts forth and with him in all his tribulation. And he went with Paul at his last going up to Jerusalem. And from thence he followed Paul to Cesarea, where he lay two years in prison. And from Cesarea he went with Paul to Rome where he lay two other years in prison. And he was with Paul when he wrote to the Colossians, as he testifieth in the fourth chapter saying: the beloved Luke the physician saluteth you. And he was with Paul when he wrote the second pistel to Timothy, as he saith in the fourth chapter saying: Only Luke is with me. Whereby ye see the authority of the man and of what credence and reverence his writing is worthy of, and thereto of whom he learned the story of his gospell, as he himself saith, how that he learned it and searched it out with all diligence of them that saw it and were also part takers {partakers} at the doing. And as for the Acts off the Apostles, he himself was at the doing of them (at the least) of the most part, and had his part therein, and therefore wrote of his own experience.


John, what he was, is manifest by the three first evangelists. First Christís apostle, and that one of the chief. Then Christís nigh kinsman, and for his singular innocency and softness, singularly beloved and of singular familiarity with Christ, and ever one of the three witnesses of most secret things. The cause of his writing was certain heresies that arose in his time, and namely two, of which one denied Christ to be very man and to be come in the very flesh and nature of man. Against which two heresies he wrote both his gospell and also his first pistel, and in the beginning of his gospell saith that the word or thing was at the beginning, and was with God, and was also very God and that all things was created and made by it, and that it was also made flesh: that is to say, became very man. And he dwelt among us (saith he) and we saw his glory.

And in the beginning of his pistel, he saith we shew you of the thing that was from the beginning, which also we heard, saw with our eyes and our hands handled. And again we shew you everlasting life, that was with the father and appeared to us, and we heard and saw, and etc.

In that he saith that it was from the beginning, and that it was eternal life, and that it was with God, he affirmeth him to be very God. And that he saith, we heard, saw and felt, he witnesseth that he was very man also. John also wrote last, and therefore touched not the story that the other had compiled. But writeth most of the faith and promises, and of the sermons of Christ.

This be sufficient concerning the four Evangelists and their authority and worthiness to be believed.

A warning to the reader if ought be escaped thorow negligence of the printer, as this text is that followeth, which if thou find any more such: com≠pare the English to the other books that are already printed, and so shalt thou perceive the truth of the English.

In the 23rd chapter of Matthew and in the 33rd leaf on the second side and last line, read the sentence thus: Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.


A Prologue upon the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Romans.

Forasmuch as this pistel is the principal and most excellent part of the new Testament and most pure evangelion, that is to say glad tidings, and that we call gospel, and also is a light and a way unto the whole scripture; I think it meet that every christian man not only know it, by rote and without the book, but also exercise himself therein evermore continually, as with the daily bread of the soul. No man verily can read it too oft, or study it too well; for the more it is studied, the easier it is; the more it is chewed, the pleasanter it is; and the more groundly it is searched, the preciouser things are found in it, so great treasure of spiritual things lieth hid therein.

††† I will therefore bestow my labor and diligence, thorow this little preface or prologue, to prepare a way in thereunto, so far forth as God shall give me grace, that it may be the better understood of every man: for it hath been hitherto evil darkened with glosses and wonderful dreams of sophisters, that no man could spy out the intent and meaning of it; which nevertheless of itself is a bright light, and sufficient to give light unto all the scripture.

††† ((How Paul useth certain words, must be diligently understood.))

††† First, We must mark diligently the manner of speaking off the apostle, and above all things know what Paul meaneth by these words, the Law, Sin, Grace, Faith, Righteousness, Flesh, Spirit, and such like; or else, read thou it ever so oft, thou shalt but lose thy labor. This word Law may not be understood here after the common manner, and (to use Pauls term) after the manner of men, or after man's ways; as that thou wouldest say the law here, in this place, were nothing but learning, which teacheth what ought to be done, and what ought not to be done, as it goeth with man's law, where the law is fulfilled with outward works only, though the heart be never so far off. But God judgeth after the ground of the heart, yea, and the thoughts and the secret movings of the mind: therefore his law requireth the ground of the heart, and love from the bottom thereof, and is not content with the outward work only, but rebuketh those works most of all, which spring not of love, from the ground and low bottom of the heart, though they appear outward never so honest and good; as Christ, in the gospel rebuketh the Pharisees above all other that were open sinners, and calleth them hypocrites, that is to say, simulars and painted sepulchres: which Pharisees yet lived no men so pure, as pertaining to the outward deeds and works of the law; yea, and Paul in the third chapter of his Pistel unto the Philippiansconfesseth of himself that, as touching the law, he was such a one as no man could complain on; and, notwithstanding, was yet a murderer of the Christens, persecuted them, and tormented them so sore that he compelled them to blaspheme Christ, and was altogether merciless, as many are which now feign outward good works.

††† For this cause the 115th {other: 116th} psalm calleth all men liars, because that no man keepeth the law from the ground of the heart, neither can keep it, though he appear outwardly full of good works.

††† For all men are naturally inclined unto evil, and hate the law. We find in ourselves unlust and tediousness to do good, but lust and delectation to do evil. Now where no free lust is to do good, there the bottom of the heart fulfilleth not the law; and there no doubt is also sin, and wrath is deserved before God, though there be never so great outward shew and appearance of honest living.

††† For this cause concludeth saint Paul in the second chapter, that the Jews all are sinners and transgressors of the law, though they make men believe, thorow hypocrisy of outward works, how that they fulfill the law; and saith, that he only which doth the law is righteous before God, meaning thereby, that no man with outward works fulfilleth the law.

††† "Thou", (saith he to the Jew) "teachest a man should not break wedlock, and yet breakest wedlock thyself. Wherein thou judgest another man, therein condemnest thou thyself; for thou thyself doest even the very same things which thou judgest." As though he would say, Thou livest outwardly in the works of the law, and judgest them that live not so.

††† Thou teachest other men, and seest a mote in another man's eye, but art not ware of the beam that is in thine own eye. For though thou keep the law outwardly with works, for fear of rebuke, shame, and punishment, either for love of reward, advantage, and vainglory; yet doest thou all without lust and love toward the law, and hadst lever a great deal otherwise do, if thou didst not fear the law; yea, inwardly, in thine heart, thou wouldest that there were no law, no, nor yet God, the author and venger of the law, if it were possible; so painful it is unto thee to have thine appetites refrained, and to be kept down.

††† Wherefore then it is a plain conclusion, that thou, from the ground and bottom of thine heart, art an enemy to the law. What prevaileth it now, that thou teachest another man not to steal, when thou thine own self art a thief in thine heart, and outwardly wouldest fain steal if thou durst? Though that the outward deeds abide not alway behind with such hypocrites and dissimulars, but break forth, even as an evil scab cannot all ways be kept in with violence of medicine.

††† Thou teachest another man, but teachest not thyself; yea, thou wottest not what thou teachest, for thou understandest not the law aright, how that it cannot be fulfilled and satisfied, but with an unfeigned love and affection; much less can it be fulfilled with outward deeds and works only.

((The law increaseth sin.))

Moreover, the law increaseth sin, as he saith in the fifth chapter, because man is an enemy to the law, forasmuch as it requireth so many things clean contrary to his nature, thereof he is not able to fulfill one point or tittle as the law requireth it; and therefore are we more provoked, and have greater lust to break it.

††† For which cause sake he saith in the seventh chapter, that "the law is spiritual;" as though he would say, If the law were fleshly, and but man's doctrine, it might be fulfilled, satisfied, and stilled with outward deeds.

((The spirit is required, yer {before} we keep the law before God.))

But now is the law ghostly, and no man fulfilleth it, except that all that he doth spring of love from the bottom of the heart. Such a new heart and lusty courage unto the law-ward canst thou never come by of thine own strength and enforcement, but by the operation and working of the spirit.

††† For the spirit of God only maketh a man spiritual and like unto the law, so that now henceforth he doth nothing of fear, or for lucre, or vantages sake, or of vain-glory, but of a free heart and of inward lust. The law is spiritual, and will be both loved and fulfilled of a spiritual heart; and therefore of necessity requireth it the spirit, that maketh a man's heart free, and giveth him lust and courage unto the law-ward. Where such a spirit is not, there remaineth sin, grudging, and hatred against the law; which law nevertheless is good, righteous, and holy.

††† Acquaint thyself therefore with the manner of speaking off the apostle, and let this now stick fast in thine heart, that it is not both one, to do the deeds and works of the law, and to fulfill the law.

((To do the deeds of the law, and to fulfil the law, are two things.))

The work of the law is whatsoever a man doth or can do of his own free-will, of his own strength and enforcing. Notwithstanding, though there be never so great working, yet as long as there remaineth in the heart unlust, tediousness, grudging, grief, pain, loathsomeness, and compulsion toward the law, so long are all the works unprofitable, lost, yea, and damnable in the sight of God. This meaneth Paul in the third chapter where he saith, "By the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in the sight of God." Hereby perceivest thou, that those sophisters are but deceivers, who teach that a man may and must prepare himself to grace, and to the favor of God, with good works, before he have the spirit and true faith of Christ. How can they prepare themselves unto the favor of God, and to that which is good, when they themselves can do no good, nor can once think a good thought, or consent to do good, the devil possessing their hearts, minds, and thoughts, captive at his pleasure? Can those works please God, thinkest thou, which are done with grief, pain, and tediousness, with an evil will, with a contrary and grudging mind?

((Prosperous : of Aquitaine (c. 390-c.463), influential in support for Augustine, against even a mild Pelagianism which allowed some place for human endeavour.))

O holy saint Prosperus, how mightily with the scripture of Paul didst thou confound this heresy (I trow) a twelve hundred years ago, or thereupon.

((To fulfill the law, what it is.))

To fulfill the law is to do the works thereof, and whatsoever the law commands, with love, lust, and inward affection and delectation, and to live godly and well, freely, willingly, and without compulsion of the law, even as though there were no law at all. Such lust, and. free liberty to love the law, cometh only by the working of the spirit in the heart; as he saith in the fifth chapter.

((The spirit cometh by faith.))

††† Now is the spirit none otherwise given, than by faith only, in that we believe the promises of God without wavering, how that God is true, and will fulfill all his good promises towards us for Christ's blood's sake, as it is plain, in the first chapter: "I am not ashamed," saith Paul, "of Christ's glad tidings, for it is the power of God unto salvation to as many as believe;" for at once and together, even as we believe the glad tidings preached to us, the holy ghost entereth into our hearts, and lowseth the bonds of the devil, which before possessed our hearts in captivity, and held them, that we could have no lust to the will of God in the law;

((Faith cometh by hearing the glad tidings.))

and as the spirit cometh by faith only, even so faith cometh by hearing the word or glad tidings of God, when Christ is preached, how that he is God's Son and man also, dead and risen again for our sakes, as he saith in the third, fourth chapters and tenth chapters. All our justifying then cometh of faith, and faith and the spirit come of God, and not of us.

When we say, faith bringeth the spirit, it is not to be understood, that faith deserveth the spirit, or that the spirit is not present in us before faith: for the spirit is ever in us, and faith is the gift and working of the spirit: but thorow preaching the spirit beginneth to work in us. And as by preaching the law he worketh the fear of God; so by preaching the glad tidings he worketh faith. And now when we believe, and are come under the covenant of God, then are we sure of the spirit by the promise of God, and then the spirit accompanieth faith inseparably, and we begin to feel his working. And so faith certifieth us of the spirit, and also bringeth the spirit with her, unto the working of all other gifts of grace, and to the working out of the rest of our salvation, until we have altogether overcome sin, death, hell, and Satan, and are come unto the everlasting life of glory. And for this cause we say, Faith bringeth the spirit.

††† ((Faith only justifieth.))

††† Hereof cometh it, that faith only justifieth, maketh righteous, and fulfilleth the law: for it bringeth the spirit thorow Christ's descryings; the spirit bringeth lust, lowseth the heart, maketh him free, setteth him at liberty, and giveth him strength to work the deeds of the law with love, even as the law requireth;

((Works spring of faith.))

then at the last out of the same faith, so working in the heart, spring all good works by their own accord. That meaneth he in the third chapter: for after he hath cast away the works of the law, so that he soundeth as though he would break and disannul the law thorow faith, he answereth to that might be laid against him, saying, "We destroy not the law thorow faith, but maintain, further, or establish the law thorow faith;" that is to say, we fulfill the law thorow faith.

††† ((Sin.))

††† Sin in the scripture is not called that outward work only committed by the body, but all the whole business, and whatsoever accompanieth, moveth, or stirreth unto the outward deed; and that whence the works spring, as unbelief, proneness, and readiness unto the deed in the ground of the heart, with all the powers, affections, and appetites, wherewith we can but sin; so that we say, that a man then sinneth, when he is carried away headlong into sin, altogether, as much as he is, of that poisonous inclination and corrupt nature, wherein he was conceived and born. For there is none outward sin committed, except a man be carried away altogether, with life, soul, heart, body, lust and mind there unto. The scripture looketh singularly unto the heart, and unto the root and original fountain of all sin; which is unbelief in the bottom of the heart.

((Faith is the mother of all good works, and unbelief of evil.))

For as faith only justifieth and bringeth the spirit and lust unto the outward good works; even so unbelief only damneth and keepeth out the spirit, provoketh the flesh, and stirreth up lust unto the evil outward works, as it happened to Adam and Eve in Paradise. Genesis iij.{3}

††† For this cause Christ calleth sin unbelief; and that notably in the xvj. {16} chapter of Iohn. "The spirit," saith he, "shall rebuke the world of sin, because they believe not in me." And, John viij.{8} "I am the light of the world." And therefore John xij.{12} he biddeth them, "While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light; for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not where he goeth." Now as Christ is the light, so is the ignorance of Christ that darkness whereof he speaketh, in which he that walketh knoweth not whither he goeth; that is, he knoweth not how to work a good work in the sight of God, or what a good work is. And therefore Christ saith, "As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world; but there cometh night when no man can work:" which night is but ignorance of Christ, in which no man can see to do any work to please God. And Paul exhorteth, Ephesians iiij.{4} That they "walk not as other heathens, who are strangers from the life of God throrow the ignorance that is in them." And again, in the same chapter: "Put off the old man, which is corrupt thorow the lusts of error," that is to say, ignorance. And, Romans xiij. {13} "Let us cast away the deeds of darkness," that is to say, of ignorance and unbelief. And, .j.Peter.j.{1 Pt. 1} "Fashion not yourselves unto your old lusts of ignorance." And .j.John.ij. {1 Jn 2} "He that loveth his brother dwelleth in light, and he that hateth his brother walketh in darkness, and wotteth not whither he goeth, for darkness hath blinded his eyes." By light he meaneth the knowledge of Christ, and by darkness the ignorance of Christ. For it is impossible that he who knoweth Christ truly should hate his brother.

††† Furthermore, to perceive this more clearly, thou shalt understand, that it is not possible to sin any sin at all, except a man break the first commandment before. Now the first commandment is divided into two verses: "Thy Lord God is one God; and thou shalt love thy Lord God with all thine heart, with all thy soul, with all thy power, and with all thy might." And the whole cause why I sin against any inferior precept is, that this love is not in mine heart; for were this love written in mine heart, and were it full and perfect in my soul, it would keep mine heart from consenting unto any sin. And the whole and only cause why this love is not written in our hearts is, that we believe not the first part, that "our Lord God is one God." For wist I what these words, "one Lord and one God," mean; that is to say, if I understood that he made all and ruleth all, and that whatsoever is done to me, whether it be good or bad, is yet his will, and that he only is the Lord that ruleth and doeth it; and wist thereto what this word, "mine," meaneth; that is to say, if mine heart believed and felt the infinite benefits and kindness of God toward me, and understood and earnestly believed the manifold covenants of mercy wherewith God hath bound himself to be mine wholly and altogether, with all his power, love, mercy, and might; then should I love him with all mine heart, soul, power, and might, and of that love ever keep his commandments. So see ye now, that as faith is the mother of all goodness and of all good works; so is unbelief the ground and root of all evil and all evil works.

††† Finally, if any man that hath forsaken sin, and is converted to put his trust in Christ, and to keep the law of God, do fall at any time, the cause is, that the flesh thorow negligence hath choked the spirit and oppressed her, and takenfrom her the food of her strength; which food is her meditation in God, and in his wonderful deeds, and in the manifold covenants of his mercy.

††† Wherefore then, before all good works, as good fruits, there must needs be faith in the heart whence they spring. And before all bad deeds, as bad fruits, there must needs be unbelief in the heart, as in the root, fountain, pith, and strength of all sin: which unbelief and ignorance is called the head of the serpent, of the old dragon, which the woman's seed, Christ, must tread under foot as promised unto Adam.


††† Grace and gift have this difference. Grace properly is God's favor, benevolence, or kind mind, which of his own self, without deserving of us, he beareth to us, whereby he was moved and inclined to give Christ unto us, with all his other gifts of grace.


Gift is the holy ghost, and his working, which he poureth into the hearts of them on whom he hath mercy, and whom he favoreth. Though the gifts of the spirit increase in us daily, and have not yet their full perfection, yea, and though there remain in us yet evil lusts and sin, which fight against the spirit, as he saith here in the vij. {7.} chapter and in the v.{5.} to the Galatians, and as it was spoken before in the iij.{3} of Genesis of the debate between the woman's seed and the seed of the serpent; yet nevertheless God's favor is so great and so strong over us for Christ's sake, that we are counted for full whole, and perfect before God. For God's favor toward us divideth not herself, increasing a little and a little, as do the gifts; but receiveth us whole, and altogether, in full love for Christ's sake, our Intercessor and Mediator, and because the gifts of the spirit, and the battle between the spirit and evil lusts, are begun in us already.

††† Of this now understandest thou the seventh chapter, where Paul accuseth himself as a sinner, and yet in the eight chapter saith, "there is no damnation to them that are in Christ;" and that because of the spirit, and because the gifts of the spirit are begun in us. Sinners we are, because the flesh is not full killed and mortified: nevertheless, inasmuch as we believe in Christ, and have the earnest and beginning of the spirit, and would fain be perfect, God is so loving and favorable unto us, that he will not look on such sin, neither will count it as sin; but will deal with us according to our belief in Christ, and according to his promises which he hath sworn to us, until the sin be full slain and mortified by death.

††† ((Faith is not the work of man.))

††† Faith is not man's opinion and dream, as some imagine and feign, when they hear the story of the gospel; but when they see that there follow no good works, nor amendment of living, though they hear, yea, and can babble many things of faith, then they fall from the right way, and say, Faith only justifieth not; a man must have good works also, if he will be righteous and safe. The cause is, when they hear the gospel or glad tidings, they feign of their own strength certain imaginations and thoughts in their hearts, saying, I have heard the gospel, I remember the story, lo! I believe: and that they count right faith; which nevertheless, as it is but man's imagination and feigning, even so it profiteth not, neither follow there any good works, or amendment of living.

††† ((Right faith is of the working of the spirit of God.))

††† But right faith is a thing wrought by the holy ghost in us, which changeth us, turneth us into a new nature, and begetteth us anew in God, and maketh us the sons of God, as thou readest in the first of John; and killeth the old Adam, and maketh us altogether new in the heart, mind, will, lust, and in all our affections and powers of the soul; the holy ghost ever accompanying her, and ruling the heart. Faith is a lively thing, mighty in working, valiant, and strong, ever doing, ever fruitful so that it is impossible that he who is endued therewith should not work always good works without ceasing. He asketh not whether good works are to be done or not, but hath done them already, ere mention be made of them; and is always doing, for such is his nature; for quick faith in his heart, and lively moving of the spirit, drive him and stir him thereunto. Whosoever doth not good works, is an unbelieving person, and faithless, and looketh round about him, groping after faith and good works, and wotteth not what faith or goodworks mean, though he babble never so many things of faith and good works.

††† ((Faith: what it is.))

††† Faith is, then, a lively and a steadfast trust in the favor of God, wherewith we commit ourselves altogether unto God; and that trust is so surely grounded, and sticketh so fast in our hearts, that a man would not once doubt of it, though he should die a thousand times therefor. And such trust, wrought by the holy ghost through faith, maketh a man glad, lusty, cheerful, and truehearted unto God and unto all creatures: whereof, willingly and without compulsion, he is glad and ready to do good to every man, to do service to every man, to suffer all things, that God may be loved and praised, which hath given him such grace; so that it is impossible to separate good works from faith, even as it is impossible to separate heat and burning from fire.

††† Therefore take heed to thyself, and beware of thine own fantasies and imaginations; which to judge of faith and good works will seem wise, when indeed they are stark blind and of all things most foolish. Pray God, that he will vouchsafe to work faith in thine heart, or else shalt thou remain evermore faithless; feign thou, imagine thou, enforce thou, wrestle with thyself, and do what thou wilt or canst.

††† ((Faith is righteousness.))

††† Righteousness is even such faith; and is called God's righteousness, or righteousness that is of value before God. For it is God's gift, and italtereth a man, and changeth him into a new spiritual nature, and maketh him free and liberal to pay every man his duty. For thorow faith a man is purged of his sins, and obtaineth lust unto the law of God; whereby he giveth God his honor, and payeth him that he oweth him; and unto men he doth service willingly, wherewithsoever he can, and payeth every man his duty. Such righteousness can nature, free-will, and our own strength, never bring to pass. For as no man can give himself faith, so can he not take away unbelief; how then can he take away any sin at all? Wherefore all is false hypocrisy and sin, whatsoever is done without faith or in unbelief, as it is evident in the fourteenth chapter unto the Romans, though it appear never so glorious or beautiful outwards.

††† ((Flesh: what it is.))

††† Flesh and spirit mayest thou not here understand as though flesh were only that which pertaineth unto unchastity, and the spirit that which inwardly pertaineth unto the heart: but Paul calleth flesh here, as Christ doth, John iij.{3}, All that is born of flesh; that is to wit, the whole man, with life, soul, body, wit, will, reason, and whatsoever he is or doth within and without; because that these all, and all that is in man, study after the world and the flesh. Call flesh therefore whatsoever we think or speak of God, of faith, of good works, and of spiritual matters, as long as we are without the spirit of God. Call flesh also all works which are done without grace, and without the working of the spirit, howsoever good, holy, and spiritual, they seem to be: as thou mayest prove by the fifth chapter unto the Galatians, where Paul numbereth worshipping of idols, witchcraft, envy, and hate, among the deeds of the flesh; and by the eighth unto the Romans, where he saith that the law by the reason of the flesh is weak; which is not understood of unchastity only, but of all sins, and most especially of unbelief, which is a vice most spiritual, and ground of all sins.

††† And as thou callest him flesh which is not renewed with the spirit, and born again in Christ, and all his deeds, even the very motions of his heart and mind, his learning, doctrine, and contemplation of high things, his preaching, teaching, and study in the scriptures, building of churches, founding of abbeys, giving of alms, mass, matins, and whatsoever he doth, though it seem spiritual and after the laws of God;


So, contrariwise, call him spiritual who is renewed in Christ, and all his deeds which spring of faith, seem they never so gross, as, the washing of the disciples feet done by Christ, and Peters fishing after the resurrection; yea, and whatsoever is done within the laws of God, though it be wrought by the body, as the very wiping of shoes and such like, howsoever gross they appear outwardly. Without such understanding of these words thou canst never understand this epistle of Paul, neither any other place in the holy scripture. Take heed, therefore; for whosoever understandeth these words otherwise, the same understandeth not Paul, whatsoever he be. Now will we prepare ourselves unto the pistel.

((The first chapter.))

Forasmuch as it becometh the preacher of Christ's glad tidings, first, thorow opening of the law, to rebuke all things, and to prove all things sin, that proceed not of the spirit, and of faith in Christ; and to prove all men sinners, and children of wrath by inheritance; and how that to sin is their nature, and that by nature they can none otherwise do than to sin; and therewith to abate the pride of man, and to bring him unto the knowledge of himself and to misery and wretchedness, that he might desire help; even so doth saint Paul. And he beginneth, in the first chapter, to rebuke unbelief and gross sins, which all men see, as idolatry, and as the gross sins of the heathen were, and as the sins now are of all them who live in ignorance, without faith, and without the favor of God; and saith, "The wrath of the God of heaven appeareth thorow the gospel upon all men, for their ungodliness and unholy living." For though it be known, and daily understood by the creatures, that there is but one God, yet is nature of herself, without the spirit and grace, so corrupt and so poisoned, that men neither can thank him, neither worship him, neither give him his due honor; but they blind themselves, and fall without ceasing into worse case, even until they come unto worshipping of images, and working of shameful sins, which are abominable and against nature, and moreover they suffer the same unrebuked in others, having delectation and pleasure therein.

††† ((The second chapter.))

††† In the second chapter the apostle proceedeth further, and rebuketh all those holy people also, which, without lust and love to the law, live well outwardly in the face of the world, and condemn others gladly; as the nature of all hypocrites is, to think themselves pure in respect of open sinners; and yet they hate the law inwardly, and are full of covetousness, and envy, and of all uncleanness Matthew .xxiij.{23} These are they which despise the goodness of God, and according to the hardness of their hearts heap together for themselves the wrath of God. Furthermore, saint Paul, as a true expounder of the law, suffereth no man to be without sin; but declareth that all they are under sin, who of free-will and of nature will live well, and suffereth them not to be better than the open sinners, yea, he calleth them hard-hearted and such as cannot repent.

††† ((Third chapter.))

††† In the third chapter he mingleth both together, both the Jews and the Gentiles; and saith, that the one is as the other, both sinners, and no difference between them, save in this only, that the Jews had the word of God committed unto them. And though many of them believed not thereon, yet is God's truth and promise thereby neither hurt nor diminished; and he taketh in his way, and allegeth the saying of the fifty-first Psalm, "that God might abide true in his words, and overcome when he is judged."

((The law justifieth not: but uttereth the sin only and condemneth.))

After that he returneth to his purpose again, and proveth by the scripture, that all men, without difference or exception, are sinners; and that by the works of the law no man is justified; but that the law was given to utter and to declare sin only. Then he beginneth and sheweth the right way unto righteousness, by what means men must be made righteous and safe; and saith, they are all sinners and without praise before God, and must, without their own deserving, be made righteous thorow faith in Christ; who hath deserved such righteousness for us, and is become unto us God's mercy-stool, for the remission of sins that are past: thereby proving that Christ's righteousness, which cometh upon us thorow faith, helpeth us only. Which righteousness, saith he, is now declared thorow the gospel, and was "testified of before by the law and the prophets." Furthermore, saith he, the law is holpen and furthered thorow faith; though that the works thereof, with all their boast, are brought to nought, and are proved not to justify.

††† ((Fourth chapter.))

††† In the fourth chapter, after that now, by the three first chapters, sins are opened, and the way of faith unto righteousness laid, he beginneth to answer unto certain objections and cavillations. And first, he putteth forth those blind reasons, which commonly they that will be justified by their own works are wont to make, when they hear that faith only, without works, justifieth; saying, "Shall men do no good works? Yea, and if faith only justifieth, what need a man to study for to do good works?" lie putteth forth therefore Abraham for an ensample, saying, What did Abraham with his works? Was all in vain? Came his works to no profit? And so he concludeth that Abraham, without and before all works, was justified and made righteous; insomuch that, before the work of circumcision, he was praised of the scripture, and called righteous by his faith only Genesis xv. {15}.

((Outward works are signs and witnesses of the inward faith.))

So that he did not the work of circumcision, for to be helped thereby unto righteousness, which yet God commanded him to do, and was a good work of obedience. So in like wise, no doubt, none other works help any thing at all unto a man's justifying: but as Abrahams circumcision was an outward sign, whereby he declared his righteousness which he had by faith, and his obedience and readiness unto the will of God; even so are all other good works outward signs and outward fruits of faith and of the spirit; which justify not a man, but shew that a man is justified already before God, inwardly in the heart, thorow faith, and thorow the spirit purchased by Christ's blood.

††† ((Blessed is he that hath his sin forgivin him.))

††† Herewith saint Paul now establisheth his doctrine of faith, rehearsed afore in the third chapter, and bringeth also the testimony of David, Psalm xxxij. {32} , which calleth a man blessed, not of works, but in that his sin is not reckoned, and in that faith is imputed for righteousness, although he abide not afterward without good works, when he is once justified.

††† For we are justified, and receive the spirit, for to do good works; neither were it otherwise possible to do good works, except we first had the spirit.

††† For how is it possible to do any thing well in the sight of God, while we are yet in captivity and bondage under the devil, and the devil possesseth us altogether, and holdeth our hearts, so that we cannot once consent unto the will of God? No man therefore can prevent the spirit in doing good. The spirit must first come, and wake him out of his sleep with the thunder of the law, and fear him, and shew him his miserable estate and wretchedness; and make him abhor and hate himself, and to desire help; and then comfort him again with the pleasant rain of the gospel, that is to say, with the sweet promises of God in Christ, and stir up faith in him to believe the promises. Then, when he believeth the promises, as God was merciful to promise, so is he true to fulfill them, and will give him the spirit and strength, both to love the will of God, and to work thereafter. So we see that God only, who, according to the scripture, worketh all in all things, worketh a man's justifying, salvation, and health; yea, and poureth faith and belief, lust to love God's will, and strength to fulfill the same, into us, even as water is poured into a vessel; and that of his good will and purpose, and not of our deservings and merits. God's mercy in promising, and truth in fulfilling his promises, sayeth us, and not we ourselves; and therefore is all laud, praise, and glory to be given unto God for his mercy and truth, and not unto us for our merits and descryings. After that, he stretcheth his ensample out against all other good works of the law, and concludeth that the Jews cannot be Abrahams heirs, because of blood and kindred only, and much less by the works of the law, but must inherit Abrahams faith, if they will be the right heirs of Abraham; forasmuch as Abraham before the law, both of Moses and also of the circumcision, was thorow faith made righteous, and called the father of all them that believe, and not of them that work. Moreover, the law causeth wrath, inasmuch as no man can fulfill it with love and lust; and as long as such grudging, hate, and indignation against the law remaineth in the heart, and is not taken away by the spirit that cometh by faith, so long, no doubt, the works of the law declare evidently that the wrath of God is upon us, and not favor: wherefore faith only receiveth the grace promised unto Abraham. And these ensamples were not written for Abrahams sake only, saith he, but for ours also; to whom, if we believe, faith shall be reckoned likewise for righteousness; as he saith in the end of the chapter.

††† ((The fifth chapter.))

††† In the fifth chapter the apostle commendeth the fruits, or works of faith; as are peace, rejoicing in the conscience, inward love to God and man; moreover boldness, trust, confidence, and a strong and lusty mind, and steadfast hope in tribulation and suffering. For all such follow, where the right faith is, for the abundant graces sake, and gifts of the spirit, which God hath given us in Christ; in that he gave to him to die for us, while yet his enemies. Now have we then that faith only, before all works, justifieth, and that it followeth not yet therefore, that a man should do no good works, but that the right shapen works abide not behind, but accompany faith, even as brightness doth the sun; and they are called by Paul the fruits of the spirit.

((Good works are the fruits of the spirit.))

Where the spirit is, there it is always summer, and there are always good fruits, that is to say, good works. This is Pauls order, That good works spring of the spirit; the spirit cometh by faith; and faith cometh by hearing the word of God, when the glad tidings and promises, which God hath made unto us in Christ, are preached truly, and received in the ground of the heart, without wavering or doubting, after that the law hath passed upon us, and hath condemned our consciences. Where the word of God is preached purely, and received in the heart, there is faith, and, the spirit of God; and there are also good works of necessity, whensoever occasion is given. Where God's word is not purely preached, but men's dreams, traditions, imaginations, inventions, ceremonies, and superstition, there is no faith; and consequently no spirit that cometh from God. And; where God's spirit is not, there can be no good works, even as where an apple-tree is not, there can grow no apples; but there is unbelief, the devils spirit, and evil works. Of this, God's spirit and his fruits, have our holy hypocrites not once known, neither yet tasted how sweet they are; though they feign many good works, of their own imagination, to be justified withall, in which is not one crumb of true faith, of spiritual love, or of inward joy, peace, and quietness of conscience; forasmuch as they have not the word of God for them, that such works please God, but they are even the rotten fruits of a rotten tree.

††† After that he breaketh forth and runneth at large, and sheweth whence both sin and righteousness, death and life, come. And he compareth Adam and Christ together; thus-wise reasoning and disputing, that Christ must needs come as a second Adam, to make us heirs of his righteousness, thorow a new spiritual birth, without our deservings; even as the first Adam made us heirs of sin, thorow the bodily generation, without our deserving. Whereby it is evidently known, and proved to the uttermost, that no man can bring himself out of sin unto righteousness, no more than he could have withstood that he was born bodily. And that is proved herewith, forasmuch as the very law of God, which of right should have holpen if any thing could have holpen, not only came and brought no help with her, but also increased sin; because that the evil and poisoned nature is offended and utterly displeased with the law; and the more she is forbid by the law, the more is she provoked, and set afire, to fulfill and satisfy her lusts. By the law then we see clearly, that we must needs have Christ to justify us with his grace, and to help nature.

††† ((The sixth chapter.))

††† In the sixth he setteth forth the chief and principal work of faith; the battle of the spirit against the flesh, how the spirit laboureth and enforceth to kill the remnant of sin and lust, which remain in the flesh after our justifying. And this chapter teacheth us, that we are not so free from sin thorow faith, that we should henceforth go up and down, idle, careless, and sure of ourselves, as though there were now no more sin in us.

((Baptism is a witness between God and us that we have promised to mortify the lusts and sin that remaineth in the flesh and etc.))

Yet there is sin remaining in us, but it is not reckoned, because of faith and of the spirit, which fight against it. Wherefore we have enough to do all our lives long, to tame our bodies, and to compel the members to obey the spirit and not the appetites; that thereby we might be like unto Christ's death and resurrection, and might fulfill our baptism, which signifieth the mortifying of sins, and the new life of grace. For this battle ceaseth not in us until the last breath, and until that sin be utterly slain by the death of the body.

††† This thing (I mean, to tame the body and so forth) we are able to do, saith he, seeing we are under grace, and not under the law. What it is, not to be under the law, he himself expoundeth.

((Not to be under the law, what it meaneth.))

For not to be under the law is not so to be understood, that every man may do what him lusteth: but not to be under the law is to have a free heart renewed with the spirit, so that thou hast lustinwardly, of thine own accord, to do that which the law commandeth, without compulsion, yea, though there were no law. For grace, that is to say, God's favor, bringeth us the spirit, and maketh us love the law: so is there now no more sin, neither is the law now any more against us, but at one and agreed with us, and we with it.

††† ((To be under the law, what it is.))

††† But to be under the law is to deal with the works of the law, and to work without the spirit and grace: for so long, no doubt, sin reigneth in us thorow the law; that is to say, the law declareth that we are under sin, and that sin hath power and dominion over us, seeing we cannot fulfill the law, namely, within in the heart, forasmuch as no man of nature favoreth the law, consenteth thereunto, and delighteth therein; which thing is exceeding great sin, that we cannot consent to the law; which law is nothing else save the will of God.

††† This is the right freedom and liberty from sin and from the law; whereof he writeth unto the end of this chapter, that it is a freedom to do good only with lust, and to live well without compulsion of the law. Wherefore this freedom is a spiritual freedom; which destroyeth not the law, but ministereth that which the law requireth, and wherewith the law is fulfilled; that is to understand, lust, and love, where with the law is stilled, and accuseth us no more, compelleth us no more, neither hath ought to crave of us any more. Even as though thou weft in debt to another man, and weft not able to pay, two manner of ways mightest thou be lowsed: one way, if he would require nothing of thee, and break thine obligation; another way, if some other good man would pay for thee, and give thee as much as thou mightest satisfy thine obligation withall. On this wise hath Christ made thee free from the law; and therefore is this no wild fleshly liberty,. That should do nought, but that doth all things, and is free, from the craving and debt of the law.

††† ((The seventh chapter.))

††† In the seventh chapter he confirmeth the same with a similitude of the state of matrimony. As when the husband dieth, the wife is at her liberty, and the one lowsed and departed from the other; not that the woman should not have the power to marry unto another man, but rather now first of all is she free, and hath power to marry unto another man, which she could not do before, till she was lowsed from her first husband: even so are our consciences bound and in danger to the law under old Adam, as long as he liveth, in us; for the law declareth that our hearts are bound, and that we cannot disconsent from him; but when he is mortified and killed by the spirit, then is the conscience free and at liberty; not so that the conscience shall now do nought, but now first of all cleaveth unto another, that is to wit Christ, and bringeth forth the fruits of life.

((To be under the law.))

So now to be under the law is not to be able to fulfill the law; but to be debtor to it, and not able to pay that which the law requireth.

((To be lowse from the law.))

And to be lowse from the law is to fulfill it, and to pay that which the law demandeth, so that it can now henceforth ask thee nought.

††† Consequently Paul declareth more largely the nature of sin, and of the law; how that thorow the law sin reviveth, moveth herself, and gathereth strength. For the old man: and corrupt nature, the more he is forbidden and kept under of the law, is the more offended and displeased therewith; forasmuch as he cannot pay that which is required of the law. For sin is his nature, and of himself he cannot but sin. Therefore is the law death to him, torment, and martyrdom. Not that the law is evil; but because that the evil nature cannot suffer that which is good, and cannot abide that the law should require of him any good thing; like as a sick man cannot suffer that a man should desire of him to run, to leap, and to do other deeds of a whole man.

††† For which cause saint Paul concludeth, that where the law is understood and perceived in the best wise, there it doth no more but utter sin, and bring us unto the knowledge of ourselves; and thereby kill us, and make us bound unto eternal damnation, and debtors to the everlasting wrath of God; even as he well feeleth and understandeth, whose conscience is truly touched of the law. In such danger were we, ere the law came, that we knew not what sin meant, neither yet knew we the wrath of God upon sinners, till the law had uttered it. So seest thou that a man must have some other thing, yea, and a greater and a more mighty thing than the law, to make him righteous and safe. They that understandnot the law on this wise are blind, and go to work presumptuously, supposing to satisfy the law with works. For they know not that the law requireth a free, a willing, a lusty, and a loving heart. Therefore they see not Moses right in the face; the vail hangeth between, and hideth his face, so that they cannot behold the glory of his countenance, how that the law is spiritual, and requireth the heart.

††† I may of mine own strength refrain, that I do mine enemy no hurt; but to love him with all mine heart, and to put away wrath clean out of my mind, can I not of my own strength. I may refuse money of mine own strength; but to put away love. unto riches out of mine heart, can I not do of mine own strength. To abstain from adultery, as concerning the outward deed, I can do of mine own strength; but not to desire in mine heart is as impossible unto me as is to choose whether I will hunger or thirst: and yet so the law requireth. Wherefore of a man's own strength is the law never fulfilled; we must have thereunto God's favor, and his spirit, purchased by Christ's blood.

††† Nevertheless, when I say a man may do many things outwardly clean against his heart, we must understand that man is but driven of divers appetites; and the greatest appetite overcometh the less, and carrieth the man away violently with her.

††† As when I desire vengeance, and fear also the inconvenience that is like to follow, if fear be greater, I abstain; if the appetite that desireth vengeance be greater, I cannot but prosecute the deed: as we see by experience in many murderers and thieves; who though they are brought into never so great peril of death, yet, after they have escaped, do even the same again: and common women prosecute their lusts, because fear and shame are away: when others, which have the same appetites in their hearts, abstain at the outwardly, or work secretly, being overcome of fear and of shame; and so likewise is it of all otherappetites.

††† ((Flesh and spirit fight together.))

††† Furthermore the apostle declareth, how the spirit and the flesh fight together in one man; and he maketh an ensample of himself, that. we might learn to know how to work aright, I mean, to kill sin in ourselves. He calleth both the spirit, and also the flesh, a law; because that like as the nature of God's law is to drive, to compel, and to crave, even so the flesh driveth, compelleth, craveth, and rageth against the spirit, and will have her lusts satisfied. On the other side, the spirit driveth, crieth, and fighteth against the flesh, and will have his lust satisfied. And this strife dureth in us as long as we live; in some more, and in some less, as the spirit or the flesh is stronger; and the very man his own self is both the spirit and the flesh, who fighteth with his own self, until sin be utterly slain, and he altogether spiritual.

††† ((The eighth chapter.))

††† In the eighth chapter he comforteth such fighters, that they despair not because of such flesh, neither think that they are less in favor with God. And he sheweth how that the sin remaining in us hurteth not; for there is no danger to them that are in Christ, which walk not after the flesh, but fight against it. And he expoundeth more largely what is the nature of the flesh, and of the spirit; and how the spirit cometh by Christ, which spirit maketh us spiritual, tameth, subdueth, and mortifieth the flesh; and certifieth us that we are nevertheless the sons of God and also beloved, though that sin rage never so much in us, so long as we follow the spirit, and fight against sin, to kill and mortify it. And because nothing is so good to the mortifying of the flesh, as the cross and tribulation, he comforteth us in our passions and afflictions by the assistance of the spirit, which maketh intercession to God for us mightily with groanings that pass man's utterance, so that man's speech cannot comprehend them; and the creatures mourn also with us of great desire that they have that we were lowsed from sin and corruption of the flesh. So we see that these three chapters, the vj. vij. viij., do nothing so much as to drive us unto the right work of faith; which is to kill the old man, and mortify the flesh.

††† ((The ninth, tenth and eleventh chapter.))

††† In the ninth, tenth, and eleventh chapters he treateth of God's predestination; whence it springeth altogether; whether we shall believe or not believe; be lowsed from sin, or not be lowsed. By which predestination our justifying and salvation are clean taken out of our hands, and put in the hands of God only; which thing is most necessary of all. For we are so weak and so uncertain, that if it stood in us, there would of a truth be no man saved; the devil, no doubt, would deceive us. But now is God sure, that his predestination cannot deceive him, neither can any man withstand or let him; and therefore have we hope and trust against sin.

††† But here must a mark be set to those unquiet, busy, and high-climbing spirits, how far they shall go; which first of all bring hither their high reasons and pregnant wits, and begin first from an high to search the bottomless secrets of God's predestination, whether they be predestinate or not. These must needs either east themselves down headlong into desperation, or else commit themselves to free chance, careless.

((This do if thou wilt understand.))

But follow thou the order of this pistel, and noosel thyself with Christ, and learn to understand what the law and the: gospel mean, and the office of both the two; that thou mayest in the one know thyself, and how that thou hast of thyself no strength but to sin, and in the other the grace of Christ; and then see thou fight against sin and the flesh, as the seven first chapters teach thee. After that, when thou art come to the eighth chapter, and art under the cross and suffering of tribulation, the necessity of predestination will wax sweet, and thou shalt well feel how precious a thing it is. For except thou have born the cross of adversity and temptation, and hast felt thyself brought unto the very brim of desperation, yea, and unto hell-gates, thou canst never meddle with the sentence of predestination without thine own harm, and without secret wrath and grudging inwardly against God; for otherwise it shall not be possible for thee to think that God is righteous and just. Therefore must Adam be well mortified, and the fleshly wit brought utterly to nought, ere that thou mayest away with this thing, and drink so strong wine. Take heed therefore unto thyself, that thou drink not wine, while thou art yet but a suckling. For every learning hath its time, measure, and age; and in Christ is there a certain childhood, in which a man must be content with milk for a season, until he wax strong and grow up unto a perfect man in Christ, and be able to eat of more strong meat.

††† ((The twelfth chapter.))

††† In the twelfth chapter he giveth exhortations. For this manner observeth Paul in all his Pistels; first he teacheth Christ and the faith, then exhorteth he to good works, and unto continual mortifying of the flesh. So here teacheth he good works in deed, and the true serving of God, and maketh all men priests, to offer up, not money and beasts, as the manner was in the time of the law, but their own bodies, with killing and mortifying the lusts of the flesh. After that, he describeth the outward conversation of christian men, how they ought to behave themselves in spiritual things, how to teach, preach, and rule in thecongregation of Christ, to serve one another, to suffer all things patiently, and to commit the wreak and vengeance to God: in conclusion, how a christian man ought to behave himself unto all men, to friend, foe, or whatsoever he be. These are the right works of a christian man, which spring out of faith. For faith keepeth not holiday, neither suffereth any man to be idle, wheresoever she dwelleth.

††† ((The thirteenth chapter.))

††† In the thirteenth chapter he teacheth to honor the worldly and temporal sword. For though that man's law and ordinance make not a man good before God, neither justify him in the heart, yet are they ordained for the furtherance of the commonwealth, to maintain peace, to punish the evil, and to defend the good. Therefore ought the good to honor the temporal sword, and to have it in reverence, though as concerning themselves they need it not, but would abstain from evil of their own accord; yea:, and do good without man's law, but by the law of the spirit, which governeth the heart, and guideth it unto all that is the will of God.

((Love is the fulfilling of the Law.))

Finally, he comprehendeth and knitteth up all in love. Love of her own nature bestoweth all that she hath, and even her own self, on that which is loved. Thou needest not to bid a kind mother to be loving unto her only son; much less doth spiritual love, which hath eyes given her of God, need man's law to teach her to do her duty. And as in the beginning the apostle put forth Christ, as the cause and author of our righteousness and salvation, even so he setteth him forth here as an ensample to counterfeit, that as he hath done to us, even so should we do one to another.

††† ((The fourteenth chapter.))

††† In the fourteenth chapter he teacheth to deal soberly with the consciences of the weak in the faith, which yet understand not the liberty of Christ perfectly enough; and to favor them of christian love; and not to use the liberty of the faith unto hinderance, but unto the furtherance and edifying of the weak. For where such consideration is not, there followeth debate anddespising of the gospel. It is better then to forbear the weak awhile, until they wax strong, than that the learning of the gospel should come altogether under foot. And such work is a singular work of love; yea, and where love is perfect, there must needs be such a respect unto the weak; a thing that Christ commanded and charged to be had above all things.

††† ((The fifteenth chapter.))

††† In the fifteenth chapter he setteth forth Christ again, to be followed; that we also by his ensample should bear with others that are yet weak, as them that are frail, open sinners, unlearned, unexpert, and of loathsome manners; and not cast them away forthwith, but suffer them till they wax better, and exhort them in the mean time. For so dealt Christ in the gospel, and now dealeth with us, daily suffering our imperfectness, weakness, conversation, and manners not yet fashioned after the doctrine of the gospel, but which smell of the flesh, yea, and sometimes break forth into outward deeds. After that, to conclude withall, he wisheth them increase of faith, peace, and joy of conscience; praiseth them, and committeth them to God, and magnifieth his office and administration in the gospel; and soberly, and with great discretion, desireth succor and aid of them for the poor saints of Jerusalem: and it is all pure love that he speaketh or dealeth withall.

††† So find we in this pistel plenteously, unto the uttermost, whatsoever a christian man or woman ought to know; that is to wit, what the law, the gospel, sin, grace, faith, righteousness, Christ, God, good works, love, hope, and the cross are; and even wherein the pith of all, that pertaineth to the christian faith, standeth; and how a christian man ought to behave himself unto every man, be he perfect or a sinner, good or bad, strong or weak, friend or foe; and in conclusion, how to behave ourselves both toward God, and toward ourselves also. And all things are profoundly grounded in the scriptures, and declared with ensamples of himself, of the fathers, and of the prophets, that a man can here desire no more.

††† ((This pistel to the Romans is the door into all the scripture: yea, and the key that openeth it and bringeth men to the true understanding of it.))

††† Wherefore it appeareth evidently, that Pauls mind was to comprehend briefly in this pistel all the whole learning of Christ's gospel, and to prepare an introduction unto all the old Testament. For without doubt, whosoever hath this pistel perfectly in his heart, the same hath the light and the effect of the old Testament with him. Wherefore let every man, without exception, exercise himself therein diligently, and record it night and day continually, until he be fully acquainted therewith.

††† ((The last chapter.))

††† The last chapter is a chapter of recommendation, wherein he yet mingleth a good monition, that we should beware of the traditions and doctrine of men, which beguile the simple with sophistry and learning that is not after the gospel, and draw them from Christ, and noosel them in weak and feeble, and (as Paul calleth them in the pistel to the Galatians,) in beggarly ceremonies, for the intent that they would live in fat pastures, and be in authority and be taken as Christ, yea, and above Christ, and sit in the temple of God, that is to wit, in the consciences of men, where God, only, his word and his Christ, ought to sit. Compare therefore all manner doctrine of men unto the scripture, and see whether they agree or not. And commit thyself whole and altogether unto Christ; and so shall he with his Holy spirit, and with all his fullness, dwell in thy soul. Amen.

††† The sum and whole cause of the writing of this epistle is, to prove that a man is justified by faith only; which proposition whoso denieth, to him is not only this epistle and all that Paul writeth, but also the whole scripture, so locked up, that he shall never understand it to his souls health. And, to bring a man to the understanding and feeling that faith only justifieth, Paul proves that the whole nature of man is so poisoned and so corrupt, yea, and so dead, concerning godly living or godly thinking, that it is impossible for her to keep the law in the sight of God; that is to say, to love it, and of love and willingness to do it as naturally as a man eats or drinks, until he be quickened again and healed thorow faith. And by justifying, understand no other thing than to be reconciled to God, and to be restored unto his favor, and to have thy sins forgiven thee. As, when I say, God justifieth us, understand thereby, that God for Christ's sake, merits, and deservings only, receiveth us unto his mercy, favor, and grace, and forgiveth us our sins. And when I say, Christ justifieth us, understand thereby, that Christ only hath redeemed us, bought, and delivered us out of the wrath of God and damnation, and hath with his works only purchased us the mercy, the favor, and grace of God, and the forgiveness of our sins. And when I say, that faith justifieth, understand thereby, that faith and trust in the truth of God and in the mercy promised us for Christ's sake, and for his deserving and works only, doth quiet the conscience and certify her that our sins be forgiven, and we in the favor of God.

††† Furthermore, set before thine eyes Christ's works and thine own works. Christ's works only justify thee, and make satisfaction for thy sin, and not thine own works; that is to say, quiet thy conscience, and make thee sure that thy sins are forgiven thee, and not thine own works. For the promise of mercy is made thee for Christ's works sake, and not for thine own works sake. Wherefore, seeing God hath not promised that thine own works shall save thee, therefore faith in thine own works can never quiet thy conscience, nor certify thee before God, when God cometh to judge and to take a reckoning that thy sins are forgiven thee. Beyond all this, mine own works can never satisfy the law, or pay that I owe it: for I owe the law to love it with all mine heart, soul, power, and might; which to pay I am never able, while I am compassed with flesh. No, I cannot once begin to love the law, except I be first sure by faith, that God loveth me and forgiveth me.†††††††

††† Finally, that we say, Faith only justifieth, ought to offend no man. For if this be true, that Christ only redeemed us, Christ only bare our sins, made satisfaction for them, and purchased us the favor of God; then must it needs be true that the trust only in Christ's deserving and in the promises of God the Father, made to us for Christ's sake, doth alone quiet the conscience, and certify it that the sins are forgiven. And when they say, A man must repent, forsake sin, and have a purpose to sin no more, as nigh as he can, and love the law of God; therefore faith alone justifieth not: I answer, That and all like arguments are naught, and like to this. I must repent and be sorry; the gospel must be preached me, and I must believe it, or else I cannot be partaker of mercy, which Christ hath deserved for me. Therefore Christ only justifieth me not; or Christ only hath not made satisfaction for my sins. As this is a naughty argument, so is the other.

††Now go to, reader, and according to the order of Pauls writing, even so do thou. First, behold thyself diligently in the law of God, and see there thy just damnation. Secondly, turn thine eyes to Christ, and see there the exceeding mercy of thy most kind and loving Father. Thirdly, remember that Christ made not this atonement that thou shouldest anger God again; neither died he for thy sins, that thou shouldest live still in them; neither cleansed he thee, that thou shouldest return, as a swine, unto thine old puddle again; but that thou shouldest be a new creature, and live a new life after the will of God, and not of the flesh. And be diligent, lest thorow thine own negligence and unthankfulness thou lose this favor and mercy again.†††

Fare well.




The Prologue upon the first Epistle off S. Paul to the Corinthians

This epistle declareth itself from chapter to chapter, that it needeth no prologue or introduction to declare it. When Paul had converted a great number at Corinth, as ye read Acts xviij.{18} and was departed, there came immediately false apostles and sectmakers and drew every man disciples after him, so that the people were whole unquieted, divided and at variance among themselves, every man for the zeal of his doctor, those new apostles not regarding what division, what uncleanness of living, or what false opinions were among the people, as long as they might be in authority and well at ease in their bellies. But Paul in the four first chapters with great wisdom and soberness, rebuketh, first the division and the authors thereof, and calleth the people to Christ again and teacheth how and for what the preacher is to be taken.

††† In the fifth he rebuketh the uncleanness that was amongst them.

††† In the sixth he rebuketh the debate and going to law together, pleading their causes before the heathen.

††† In the seventh he informeth them concerning chastity and marriage.

††† In the eighth, ninth, tenth and eleventh he teacheth the strong to forbear the weak that yet understood not the liberty of the gospel, and that with the ensample of himself. Which though he were an apostle and had authority, yet of love he abstained, to win other. And he feareth them with the ensamples of the old testament and rebuketh diverse disorders that were among them concerning the sacrament and the going bare-headed of married women.

††† In the twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth, he teacheth of the manifold gifts of the spirit, and proveth by a similitude of the body, that all gifts are given that each should help other, and thorow love do service to other, and proveth that where love is not, there is nothing that pleaseth God. For that one should love another, is all that God requireth of us. And therefore if we desire spiritual gifts he teacheth those gifts to be desired that help our neighbours.

††† In the fifteenth he teacheth of the resurrection of the body.

††† And in the last he exhorteth to help the poor saints.



The Prologue upon the second Epistle off S. Paul to the Corinthians

††† As in the first epistle he rebuketh the Corinthians sharply, so in this he cornforteth them and praiseth them, and commandeth him that was excommunicate to be received lovingly into the congregation again.

††† And in the first and second chapters he sheweth his love to them-ward, how that all that he spake, did or suffered, was for their sakes and for their salvation.

††† Then in the third, fourth and fifth he praiseth the office of preaching the gospel above the preaching of the law, and sheweth that the gospel groweth thorow persecution and thorow the cross, which maketh a man sure of eternal life: and here and there he toucheth the false prophets, which studied to turn the faith of the people from Christ unto the works of the law.

††† In the sixth and seventh chapters he exhorteth them to suffer with the gospel, and to live as it becometh the gospel, and praiseth him in the latter end.

††† In the eighth and ninth chapters he exhorteth them to help the poor saints that were at Jerusalem.

††† In the tenth, eleventh and twelfth he envieth against the false prophets.

††† And in the last chapter he threateneth them that had sinned and not amended themselves.



The Prologue upon the Epistle off S. Paul to the Galatians

††† As ye read Acts xv.{15} how certain came from Jerusalem to Antioch and vexed the disciples there, affirming that they could not be saved except they were circumcised.

††† Even so after Paul had converted the Galatians and coupled them to Christ, to trust in him only for the remission of sin, and hope of grace and salvation, and was departed: there came false apostles unto them (as unto the Corinthians, and unto all places where Paul had preached) and that in the name of Peter, James and John, whom they called the apostles, and preached circumcision and the keeping of the law, to be saved by, and minished Paul's authority.

††† To the confounding of those, Paul magnifieth his office and apostleship in the two first chapters and maketh himself equal unto the high apostles, and concludeth that every man must be justified without deservings, without works, and without help of the law: but alone by Christ.

††† And in the third and fourth, he proveth the same with scripture, ensamples and similitudes, and sheweth that the law is cause of more sin and bringeth the curse of God upon us, and justifieth us not: but that justifying cometh by grace promised us of God thorow the deserving of Christ, by whom (if we believe) we are justified without help of the works of the law.

††† And in the fifth and sixth he exhorteth unto the works of love which follow faith and justifying. So that in all his epistle he observeth this order. First he preacheth the damnation of the law: then the justifying of faith, and thirdly the works of love. For on that condition that we love and work, is the mercy given us.



The Prologue upon the Epistle off S. Paul to the Ephesians

††† In this epistle, and namely in the three first chapters Paul sheweth that the gospel and grace thereof was foreseen and predestinate of God from before the beginning, and deserved thorow Christ, and now at the last sent forth that all men should believe thereon, thereby to be justified, made righteous, living and happy, and to be delivered from under the damnation of the law and captivity of ceremonies.

††† And in the fourth he teacheth to avoid traditions and men's doctrines, and to beware of putting trust in anything save Christ, affirming that he only is sufficient, and that in him we have all things, and beside him need nothing.

††† In the fifth and sixth he exhorteth to exercise the faith and to declare it abroad thorow good works, and to avoid sin, and to arm them with spiritual armour against the devil that they might stand fast in time of tribulation and under the cross.



The Prologue upon the Epistle off S. Paul to the Philippians

††† Paul praiseth the Philippians, and exhorteth them to stand fast in the true faith, and to increase in love. And because that false prophets study always to impugn and destroy the true faith, he warneth them of such work-learners or teachers of works, and praiseth Epaphroditus. And all this doth he in the first and second chapters.

††† In the third he reproveth faithless and man's righteousness, which false prophets teach and maintain. And he setteth him for an ensample, how that he himself had lived in such false righteousness and holiness unrebukable, that was so that no man could complain on him, and yet now setteth nought thereby, for Christ's righteousness' sake. And finally affirmeth that such false prophets are the enemies of the cross, and make their bellies their god. Further than they may safely and without all peril and suffering, will they not preach Christ.



The Prologue upon the Epistle off S. Paul to the Colossians

††† As the epistle to the Galatians holdeth the manner and fashion of the epistle to the Romans, briefly comprehending all that is therein at length disputed:

Even so this epistle followeth the ensample of the epistle to the Ephesians, containing the tenor of the same epistle with fewer words.

††† In the first chapter, he praiseth them and wisheth that they continue in the faith, and grow perfecter therein, and then describeth he the gospel, how that it is a wisdom that confesseth Christ to be the Lord and God, crucified for us, and a wisdom that hath been hid in Christ since afore the beginning of the world, and now first begun to be opened thorow the preaching off the apostles.

††† In the second, he warneth them of men's doctrine, and describeth the false prophets to the uttermost and rebuketh them according.

††† In the third, he exhorteth to be fruitful in the pure faith with all manner of good works one to another, and describeth all degrees and what their duties are.

††† In the fourth he exhorteth to pray, and also to pray for him, and saluteth them.



A Prologue to the first Epistle off S. Paul to the Thessalonians

††† This epistle did Paul write of exceeding love and care: and praiseth them in the two first chapters, because they did receive the gospel earnestly, and had in tribulation and persecution continued therein steadfastly, and were become an ensample unto all congregations, and hath thereto suffered of their own kinsmen as Christ and his apostles did of the Jews, putting them thereto in mind, how purely and godly he had lived among them to their ensample, and thanketh God that his gospel had brought forth such fruit among them.

††† In the third chapter, he sheweth his diligence and care, lest his so great labour and their so blessed a beginning should have been in vain, Satan and his apostles vexing them with persecution, and destroying their faith with men's doctrine. And therefore he sent Timothy to them to comfort them and strength them in the faith, and thanketh God that they had so constantly endured, and desired God to increase them.

††† In the fourth he exhorteth them to keep themselves from sin, and to do good one to another. And thereto be informeth them concerning the resurrection.

††† In the fifth he writeth of the last day, that it should come suddenly, exhorting to prepare themselves thereafter and to keep a good order concerning obedience and rule.



The Prologue upon the second Epistle off S. Paul to the Thessalonians

††† Because in the fore-epistle he had said that the last day should come suddenly, the Thessalonians thought that it should have come shortly. Wherefore in this epistle he declareth himself.

††† And in the first chapter he comforteth them with the everlasting reward of their faith and patience in suffering for the gospel, and with the punishment of their persecutors in everlasting pain.

††† In the second he sheweth that the last day should not come, till there were first a departing (as some men think) from under the obedience of the Emperor of Rome, and that Antichrist should set up himself in the same place, as God: and deceive the unthankful world with false doctrine, and with false and lying miracles wrought by the working of Satan, until Christ should come and slay him with his glorious coming and spiritual preaching of the word of God.

††† In the third he giveth them exhortation and warneth them to rebuke the idle that would not labour with their hands, and avoid their company, if they would not mend.



The Prologue upon the first Epistle off S. Paul to Timothy

††† This epistle writeth S. Paul to be an ensample unto all bishops, what they should teach, and how they should govern the congregation of Christ in all degrees, that it should be no need to govern Christ's flock with the doctrine of their own good meanings.

In the first chapter, he commandeth that the bishop shall maintain the right faith and love, and resist false preachers which make the law and works equal with Christ and his gospel. And he maketh a short conclusion of all Christian learning, whereto the law serveth and what the end thereof is, also what the gospel is, and setteth himself for a comfortable ensample unto all sinners and troubled consciences.

††† In the second he commandeth to pray for all degrees, and chargeth that the women shall not preach nor wear costly apparel, but to be obedient unto the men.

††† In the third he describeth, what manner persons the bishops or priests and their wives should be, and also the deacons and their wives: and commendeth it, if any man desire to be a bishop after that manner.

†† In the fourth he prophesieth and sheweth before of the false bishops and spiritual officers that should arise among the Christian people, and be, do and preach clean contrary to the fore-described ensample, and should depart from the faith in Christ and forbid to marry and to eat certain meats, teaching to put trust therein, both of justifying and forgiveness of sins and also of deserving of eternal life.

†† In the fifth he teacheth how a bishop should use himself toward young and old and concerning widows what is to be done, and which should be found of the common cost: and teacheth also how men should honour the virtuous bishops and priests, and how to rebuke the evil.

†† In the sixth he exhorteth the bishop to cleave to the gospel of Christ and true doctrine, and to avoid vain questions and superfluous disputings which gender strife and quencheth truth, and by which also the false prophets get them authority and seek to satisfy their insatiable covetousness.



The Prologue upon the second Epistle off S. Paul to Timothy

††† In this epistle Paul exhorteth Timothy to go forward as he had begun, and to preach the gospel with all diligence, as it need was, seeing many were fallen away, and many false spirits and teachers were sprung up already. Wherefore a bishop's part is, ever to watch and to labour in the gospel.

††† In the third and fourth he sheweth before and that notably, of the jeopardous time toward the end of the world, in which a false spiritual living should deceive the whole world with outward hypocrisy and appearance of holiness, under which all abominations should have their free passage and course, as we (alas) have seen this prophecy of S. Paul fulfilled in our spirituality unto the uttermost jot.



The Prologue unto the Pistel off S. Paul to Titus

††† This is a short epistle: wherein yet is contained all that is needful for a Christian to know.

††† In the first chapter he sheweth what manner a man a bishop or curate ought to be: that is to wit, virtuous and learned, to preach and defend the gospel, and to confound the doctrine of trusting in works and men's traditions which ever fight against the faith and carry away the conscience captive from the freedom that is in Christ into the bondage of their own imaginations and inventions, as though those things should make a man good in the sight of God which are to no profit at all.

††† In the second he teacheth all degrees, old, young, men, women, masters, and servants how to behave themselves, as they which Christ hath bought with his blood, to be his proper or peculiar people, to glorify God with good works.

††† In the third he teacheth to honour temporal rulers and to obey them, and yet bringeth to Christ again and to the grace that he hath purchased for us, that no man should think that the obedience of princes, laws or any other work should justify us before God. And last of all he chargeth to avoid the company of the stubborn and of the heretics.



The Prologue to the Pistel off S. Paul unto Philemon

††† In this epistle S. Paul sheweth a godly ensample of Christian love. Herein we see how Paul taketh poor Onesimus unto him and maketh intercession for him unto his master and helpeth him with all that he may, and behaveth himself none otherwise than as though he himself were the said Onesimus. Which thing yet he doth not with power and authority, as he well might have done: but putteth off all authority and whatsoever he might of right do, that Philemon might do likewise toward Onesimus, and with great meekness and wisdom teacheth Philemon to see his duty in Christ Jesus.



A Prologue to the first Epistle off Saint Peter

††† This epistle did saint Peter write to the heathen that were converted and exhorteth them to stand fast in the faith, to grow therein and to wax perfect, thorow all manner of suffering and also good works.

††† In the first he declareth the justifying of faith thorow Christ's blood, and comforteth them with the hope of the life to come, and sheweth that we have not deserved it, but that the prophets prophesied it should be given us, and as Christ which redeemed us out of sin and all uncleanness is holy, so he exhorteth to lead an holy conversation: and because we be richly bought and made heirs of a rich inheritance, to take heed that we lose it not again thorow our own negligence.

††† In the second chapter he sheweth that Christ is the foundation and head corner-stone, whereon all are built thorow faith, whether it be Jew or gentile, and how that in Christ they are made priests, to offer themselves to God (as Christ did himself) and to flee the lusts of the flesh that fight against the soul. And first he teacheth them in general to obey the worldly rulers and then in special he teacheth the servants to obey their masters be they good or bad, and to suffer wrong of them as Christ suffered wrong for us.

††† In the third he teacheth the wives to obey their husbands, yea though they be unbelievers and to apparel themselves godly and as it becometh holiness. And thereto that the husbands suffer and bear the infirmity of their wives and live according to knowledge with them. And then in general he exhorteth them to be soft, courteous, patient and friendly one to another, and to suffer for righteousness after the ensample of Christ.

††† In the fourth he exhorteth to flee sin and to tame the flesh with soberness, watching and prayer, and to love each other, and to know that all good gifts are of God and every man to help his neighbour with such as he hath received of God, and finally not to wonder, but to rejoice though they must suffer for Christ's name's sake, seeing as they be here part takers {partakers} of his afflictions, so shall they be part takers {partakers} of his glory to come.

††† In the fifth he teacheth the bishops and priests how they should live and feed Christ's flock: and warneth us of the devil which on every side lieth in wait for us.



A Prologue to the second Epistle off Saint Peter

††† This epistle was written against them which thought that Christian faith might be idle and without works, when yet the promise of Christ is made us upon that condition, that we henceforth work the will of God and not of the flesh. Therefore he exhorteth them to exercise themselves diligently in virtue and all good works, thereby to be sure that they have the true faith, as a man knoweth the goodness of a tree by his fruit. Then he commendeth and magnifieth the gospel, and willeth that men hearken to that only, and to men's doctrine not at all. For as he saith, there came no prophetical scripture by the will of man, but by the will of the holy ghost which only knoweth the will of God, neither is any scripture of private interpretation: that is to say, may be otherwise expounded than agreeing to the open places and general articles and to the covenants of God and all the rest of the scripture.

††† And therefore in the second he warneth them of false teachers that should come, and thorow preaching confidence in false works to satisfy their covetousness withall, should deny Christ. Which he threateneth with three terrible ensamples, with the fall of the angels, the flood of Noah and overthrowing of Sodom and Gomorrah, and so describeth them with their insatiable covetousness, pride, stubborn and disobedience to all temporal rule and authority, with their abominable whoredom and hypocrisy that a blind man may see that he prophesied it of the popes' holy spirituality which devoured the whole world with their covetousness, living in all lust and pleasure and reigning as temporal tyrants.

††† In the third he sheweth that in the latter days, the people thorow unbelief and lack of fear of the judgement of the last day, shall be even as Epicures, wholly given to the flesh. Which last day shall yet surely and shortly come saith he: for a thousand years and one day is with God all one. And he sheweth also how terrible that day shall be, and how suddenly it shall come: and therefore exhorteth all men to look earnestly for it, and to prepare themselves against it with holy conversation and godly living.

††† Finally. The first chapter sheweth how it should go in the time of the pure and true gospel. The second how it should go in the time of the pope and men's doctrine. The third how at the last men should believe nothing nor fear God at all.



A Prologue to the three Epistles off S. John

††† This first epistle off saint John containeth the doctrine of a very apostle of Christ, and ought of right to follow his gospel. For as in his epistle he setteth out the true faith, and teacheth by it only all men to be saved and restored unto the favour of God again: even so here in this epistle he goeth against them that boast themselves of faith and yet continue without good works and teacheth many ways that where true faith is, there the works tarry not behind, and contrary that where the works follow not, there is no true faith but a false imagination and utter darkness.

††† And he writeth sore against a certain sect of heretics which then began to deny that Christ was come in the flesh, and calleth them very antichrists, Which sect goeth now in their full swing. For though they deny not openly with the mouth that Christ is come in the flesh: yet they deny it in the heart with their doctrine and living. For he that will be justified and saved thorow his own works, the same doth as much as he that denieth Christ to be come in the flesh seeing that Christ came only therefore in the flesh, that he should justify us, or purchase us pardon of our sins, bring us into the favour of God again and make us heirs of eternal life, with his works only and with his blood shedding, without and before all our works.

††† So fighteth this epistle both against them that will be saved by their own good works, and also against them that will be saved by a faith that hath no lust to do works at all, and keepeth us in the middle way, that we believe in Christ to be saved by his works only, and then to know that it is our duty for that kindness, to prepare ourselves to do the commandment of God, and to love every man his neighbour as Christ loved him, seeking with our own works God's honour and our neighbours' wealth only, and trusting for eternal life and for all that God hath promised us for Christ's sake.

††† The two last epistles though they be short, yet are goodly ensamples of love and faith and do savour of the spirit of a true apostle.



The Prologue to the Epistle off S. Paul to the Hebrews

††† About this epistle hath ever been much doubting and that among great learned men who should be the author thereof: divers affirming that it was not Paul's, partly because the style so disagreeth and is so unlike his other epistles, and partly because it standeth in the second chapter, this learning was confirmed to us ward: that is to say taught us by them that heard it themselves of the Lord. Now Paul testifieth Gal.j.{1} that he received not his gospel of man nor by man but immediately of Christ and that by revelation. Wherefore say they, seeing this man confesseth that he received his doctrine off the apostles, it cannot be Paul's, but some disciple off the apostles. Now whether it were Paul's or no I say not, but permit it to other men's judgments, neither think I it to be an article of any man's faith, but that a man may doubt of the author.

††† Moreover, many there hath been which not only have denied this epistle to have been written by any off the apostles, but have also refused it altogether as no catholic or godly epistle, because of certain texts written therein. For first it saith in the sixth: it is impossible that they which were once lighted, and have tasted of the heavenly gift and were become part takers {partakers} of the holy ghost, and have tasted of the good word of God and of the power of the world to come, if they fall, should be renewed again to repentance or conversion. And in the tenth it saith, if we sin willingly after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a fearful looking for judgment and violent fire which shall destroy the adversaries. And in the twelfth it saith that Esau found no way to repentance or conversion, no though he sought it with tears. Which texts say they, sound: that if a man sin any more after he is once baptised, he can be no more forgiven, and that is contrary to all the scripture, and therefore to be refused to be catholic and godly.

††† Unto which I answer: if we should deny this epistle for those text's sakes, so should we deny first Matthew which in his twelfth chapter affirmeth that he which blasphemeth the holy ghost, shall neither be forgiven here nor in the world to come. And then Mark which in his third chapter saith that he that blasphemeth the holy ghost, shall never have forgiveness, but shall be in danger of eternal damnation. And thirdly Luke which saith there shall be no remission to him that blasphemeth the spirit of God. Moreover John in his first epistle saith there is a sin unto death, for which a man should not pray. And II.Pet.ij.{2} saith: if a man be fled from the uncleanness of the world thorow the knowledge of the saviour Jesus Christ, and then be wrapt in again, his end is worse than the beginning and that it had been better for him never to have known the truth. And Paul II.Tim.iij.{3} curseth Alexander the coppersmith, desiring the Lord to reward him according to his deeds. Which is a sign that either the epistle should not be good, or that Alexander had sinned past forgiveness, no more to be prayed for. Wherefore seeing no scripture is of private interpretation: but must be expounded according to the general articles of our faith and agreeable to other open and evident texts, and confirmed or compared to like sentences, why should we not understand these places with like reverence as we do the other, namely when all the remnant of the epistle is so godly and of so great learning?

††† The first place in the sixth chapter will no more than that they which know the truth, and yet willingly refuse the light, and chose rather to dwell in darkness, and refuse Christ and make a mock of him (as the Pharisees which when they were overcome with scripture and miracles that Christ was the very Messiah, yet had such lust in iniquity that they forsook him, persecuted him, slew him and did all the shame that could be imagined to him) cannot be renewed (eis metanoiant {To repentance} saith the Greek), to be converted: that is to say, such malicious unkindness which is none other than the blaspheming of the holy ghost, deserveth that the spirit shall never come more at them to convert them, which I believe to be as true as any other text in all the scripture.

††† And what is meant by that place in the tenth chapter where he saith, if we sin willingly after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin, is declared immediately after. For he maketh a comparison between Moses and Christ, saying: if he which despised Moses' law died without mercy: how much worse punishment is he worthy of, that treadeth the son of God under foot and counteth the blood of the covenant, by which blood he was sanctified, as an unholy thing and blasphemeth the spirit of grace. By which words it is manifest that he meaneth none other by the fore words, than the sin of blasphemy of the spirit.

††† For them that sin of ignorance or infirmity, there is remedy, but for him that knoweth the truth, and yet willingly yieldeth himself to sin, and consenteth unto the life of sin with soul and body, and had lever-lie {more-rather-lie} in sin than have his poisoned nature healed by the help of the spirit of grace, and maliciously persecuteth the truth: for him I say there is no remedy: the way to mercy is locked up and the spirit is taken from him for his unthankful ness sake, no more to be given him. Truth it is if a man can turn to God and believe in Christ, he must be forgiven how deep so ever he bath sinned: but that will not be without the spirit, and such blasphemers shall no more have the spirit offered them. Let every man therefore fear God and beware that he yield not himself to serve sin, but how oft so ever he sin let him begin again and fight afresh, and no doubt he shall at the last overcome, and in the meantime yet be under mercy for Christ's sake because his heart worketh and would fain be lowsed from under the bondage of sin.

††† And that it saith in the twelfth, Esau found no way (eis metanoian) to be converted and reconciled unto God and restored unto his birthright again, though he sought it with tears, that text must have a spiritual eye. For Esau in selling his birthright despised not only that temporal promotion, that he should have been lord over all his brethren and king of that country: but he also refused the grace and mercy of God and the spiritual blessings of Abraham and Isaac and all the mercy that is promised us in Christ which should have been his seed. Of this ye see that this epistle ought no more to be refused for holy, godly and catholic than the other authentic scriptures.

††† Now therefore to come to our purpose again, though this epistle (as it saith in the sixth) lay not the ground of the faith of Christ, yet it buildeth cunningly thereon pure gold, silver and precious stones, and proveth the priesthood of Christ with scriptures inevitable. Moreover there is no work in all scripture that so plainly declareth the meaning and significations of the sacrifices, ceremonies and figures of the old testament, as this epistle: in so much that if willful blindness and malicious malice were not the cause, this epistle only were enough to weed out of the hearts of the papists that cankered heresy of justifying of works, concerning our sacraments, ceremonies and all manner traditions of their own invention.

††† And finally in that ye see in the tenth that he had been in bonds and prison for Christ's sake, and in that he so mightily driveth all to Christ to be saved thorow him, and so cared for the flock of Christ that he both wrote and sent, where he heard that they began to faint, to comfort, encourage and strengthen them with the word of God, and in that also that he sent Timothy, Paul's disciple both virtuous, well-learned and had in great reverence, it is easy to see that he was a faithful servant of Christ's and of the same doctrine that Timothy was of, yea and Paul himself was, and that he was an apostle or in the apostles' time or near thereunto. And seeing the epistle agreeth to all the rest of the scripture, if it be indifferently looked on, how should it not be of authority and taken for holy scripture?



The Prologue to the Epistles off Saints James and Judas

††† Though this epistle were refused in the old time and denied of many to be the epistle of a very apostle, and though also it lay not the foundation of the faith of Christ, but speaketh of a general faith in God, neither preacheth his death and resurrection, either the mercy that is laid up in store for us in him, or everlasting covenant made us in his blood, which is the office and duty of a very apostle, as Christ sayeth John xv.{15} ye shall testify of me: yet because it setteth up no man's doctrine, but crieth to keep the law of God, and maketh love which is without partiality the fulfilling of the law, as Christ and all the apostles did, and hath thereto many good and godly sentences in it: and hath also nothing that is not agreeable to the rest of the scripture, if it be looked indifferently on: me thinketh it ought of right to be taken for holy scripture. For as for that place for which haply it was at the beginning refused of holy men (as it ought, if it had meant as they took it, and for which place only, for the false understanding, it bath been chiefly received of the papists) yet if the circumstances be well pondered it will appear that the author's intent was far otherwise than they took him for.

††† For where he saith in the second chapter faith without deeds is dead in itself, he meaneth none other thing than all the scripture doth: how that faith which hath no good deeds following, is a false faith and none of that faith justifieth or receiveth forgiveness of sins. For God promised them only forgiveness of their sins which turn to God, to keep his laws. Wherefore they that purpose to continue still in sin have no part in that promise: but deceive themselves, if they believe that God hath forgiven them their old sins for Christ's sake. And after when he saith that a man is justified by deeds and not of faith only, he will no more than that faith doth not so justify everywhere, that nothing justifieth save faith. For deeds also do justify. And as faith only justifieth before God, so do deeds only justify before the world, whereof is enough spoken, partly in the prologue on Paul to the Romans, and also in other places. For as Paul affirmeth Rom. iiij. {4} that Abraham was not justified by works afore God, but by faith only as Genesis beareth record, so will James that deeds only justified him before the world, and faith wrought with his deeds: that is to say, faith wherewith he was righteous before God in the heart did cause him to work the will of God outwardly, whereby he was righteous before the world, and whereby the world perceived that he believed in God loved and feared God. And as Hebrews xi. {11} the scripture affirmeth that Rahab was justified before God thorow faith, so doth James affirm that thorow works by which she shewed her faith, she was justified before the world, and it is true.

††† And as for the epistle of Judas, though men have and yet do doubt of the author, and though it seem also to be drawn out of the second epistle of S. Peter, and thereto allegeth scripture that is nowhere found, yet seeing the matter is so godly and agreeing to other places of holy scripture, I see not but that it ought to have the authority of holy scripture.


(These things were added to fill up the leaf withal {lesse with all}
at the end of the 1534 edition book.)

Infernus and Gehenna differ much in signification, though we have none other interpretation for either of them, than this English word, hell. For Gehenna signifieth a place of punishment: but Infernus is taken for any manner of place beneath in the earth, as a grave, sepulchre or cave.
    Hell: it is called in Hebrew the valley of Hennon. A place by Jerusalem, where they burnt their children in fire unto the idol Moloch, and is usurped and taken now for a place where the wicked and ungodly shall be tormented both soul and body, after the general judgement.
    Give room to the wrath of God Rom. xij.{12}: wrath is there taken for vengeance. And the meaning is: let God avenge, either by himself or by the officers that bear his room.
    There tarry and abide till ye go out. It is in Mark the vj.{6th}. Wheresoever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye go out thence. And Luke ix.{9} it is, into whatsoever house ye enter, there tarry, and go not out thence: that is to say, whosoever receiveth you, there abide as long as you are in the city or town, and go not shamefully a begging from house to house as friars do.
    Dust: shake off the dust of your feet. Matthew x.{10}. Why are they commanded to shake off the dust? For a witness saith Luke. That, that deed may testify against them in the day of judgement, that the doctrine of salvation was offered them, but they would not receive it. Ye see also that such gestures and ceremonies have greater power with them, than have bare words only, to move the heart and to stir up faith, as do the laying on the hands and anointing with oil and etc.
    Hypocrites, can ye discern the face of heaven and not discern the sign of the times? That is to say: they could judge by the signs of the sky what weather should follow: but could not know Christ by the signs of the scripture. And yet other sign might not be given them.
    He that saith he knoweth Christ and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar. To know Christ is to believe in Christ. Ergo he that keepeth not the commandments, believeth not in Christ.



as it was written, and

caused to be written,

by them which he-

ard it. To whom

also our sa-


Christ Iesus

commanded that

they should pre-

ach it unto all



The Books Contained in
the new Testament

i The gospell off Saynct Mathew
ij The gospell off S. Marke
iij The gospell off S. Luke
iiij The gospell off S. Ihon
iv The acts off the apostles written by S. Luke
vj The epistel off S. Paul to the Romans
vij The first epistel off S. Paul to the Corrinthians
viij The second epistel off S. Paul to the Corrinthians
ix The pistel off S. Paul to the Galathians.
x The pistel off S. Paul to the Ephesians.
xj The pistel off S. Paul to the Philippians
xij The pistel off S. Paul to the Collossians
xiij The first pistel off S. Paul to the Tessalonians
xiiij The second pistel off S. Paul to the Tessalonians
xv The first pistel off S. Paul to Timothe.
xvj The second pistel off S. Paul to Timothe.
xvij The pistel off S. Paul to Titus
xviij The pistel off S. Paul unto Philemon
xix The first pistel off S. Peter
xx The second pistel off S. Peter
xxj The first pistel off S. Ihon
xxij The second pistel off S. Ihon
xxiij The third pistel off S. Ihon

xxiiij The pistel unto the Ebrues
xxv The pistle off S. Iames
xxvj The pistle of Iude
xxvij The revelation of Ihon.

© Faith of God
W.T. 1526