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The Bhagavad Gita


The Characters of Theophrastus


The Revolt of the Netherlands

Friedrich Schiller

My Man Jeeves

P. G. Wodehouse

A commentary on Saint Paul's Epistle to the Galatians

by Martin Luther


Grace, Peace, and Victory, in the Lord Jesu our Saviour.

In few words to declare what is to be said for the commendation of this work, although in few words all cannot be expressed that may be said, yet briefly to signify that may suffice, this much we thought good to certify thee, godly reader; that amongst many other godly English books, in these our days printed and translated, thou shalt find but /ew wherein either thy time shall seem better bestowed, or thy labour better recompensed to the profit of thy soul, or wherein thou mayest see the spirit and vein of St. Paul more lively represented to thee, than in the diligent reading of this present Commentary upon the Epistle of St. Paul to the Galatians. In which, as in a mirror or glass, or rather as St. Stephen, in the heavens being opened, thou mayest see and behold the admirable glory of the Lord, and all the riches of heaven, thy salvation freely, and only by faith in Christ; his love and grace toward thee so opened, thy victory and conquest in him so proved, the wrath of God so pacified, his law satisfied, the full kingdom of life set open; death, hell, and hell-gate, be they never so strong, with all the power of sin, flesh, and the world, vanquished; thy conscience discharged, all fears and terrors removed, thy spiritual man so refreshed and set at liberty, that either thy heart must be heavier than lead, or the reading hereof will lift thee up above thyself, and give thee to know that of Christ Jesu, that thyself shalt say thou never knewest before, though before thou knewest him right well.

Such spiritual comfort, such heavenly doctrine, such experience and practice of conscience herein is contained, such triumphing over Satan, and all his power infernal, such contempt of the law compared with the Gospel, such an holy pride and exaltation of the believing man (whom here he maketh a person divine, the son of God, the heir of the whole earth, conqueror of the world, of sin, of death, and the devil), with such phrases and speeches of high contemplation, of Christ, of grace, of justification, and of faith (which faith, saith he, transfignreth a man into Christ, and coupleth him more near unto Christ than the husband is coupled to his wife, and maketh a man more than a man), with such other voices, full of spiritual glory and majesty, as the like hath not been used lightly of any writer since the Apostle's time, neither durst he ever have used the same himself, had not great experience and exercise of conscience by inward conflicts and profound agonies framed him thereunto, and ministered to him both this knowledge of spirit and boldness of speech.

And this commonly is the working and proceeding of God's vocation, ever to work things by the contrary; of infidelity, to make faith, of poverty, to make riches ; in misery, to show mercy; to turn sorrow to solace, mourning to mirth; from afflictions, to advance to glory; from hell, to bring to heaven; from death, to life; from darkness, to light; from thraldom, to liberty; in wilderness, to give waters; the barren to make fruitful; of things that be not, to make things to be ; briefly, to make all things of nought. Thus began God first to work, thus he proceeded, thus he continueth, and so will unto the world's end. The first seed of promise, next to Eve, was given to Sarah ; yet in what case was Eve before she had the promise ? and in what barrenness and despair was Sarah before she enjoyed her well-beloved Isaac ? The like is to be said of the two mothers of two most excellent children, Samuel and John Baptist; and yet what griefs and sorrows passed over their hearts, being both past all hope in nature, before the goodness of God did work ? How long did Jacob, the patriarch, serve in miserable thraldom for his Rachael ? In what excellent glory was Joseph exalted ? Yet what suffered he before of his brethren, and how long imprisonment? In what and how long servitude were the sons of Israel before Moses was sent unto them ? and afterwards, in what distress were they compassed on every side, when the sea was forced to give them place ? after that again, what an excellent land was promised and given unto them, flowing with milk and honey ? but how were they scourged before in the desert, and yet had not they the land, but their children ? To over-pass many things here by the way, what an excellent work was it of God to set up David in his kingdom? also what excellent promises were given to his throne ? yet how hardly escaped he with life ? how did the Lord mortify and frame him to his hand, before he placed him in quiet? Infinite it were to recite all. Briefly, in all the works of God, this is usual to be seen, that he worketh evermore most excellent things by instruments most humble, and which seem farthest off. Which of all the Apostles did ever think, when Christ was so humbled and crucified upon the tree, that they should ever see him again, although he foretold them of his rising before ; insomuch that Thomas did scarcely believe when he with his eyes saw him ? What man would ever have thought that Paul, in the raging heat of his persecuting spirit, would have turned from a persecutor to such a professor; from such infidelity, to such a faith; insomuch that Ananias would scarcely believe the Lord when he told him ? Such is the omnipotency of the Lord

our God, ever working lightly by the contrary, especially when he hath any excellent thing to work to his own glory.

After like sort may we esteem also of Martin Luther, who, being first a friar, in what blindness, superstition, and darkness, in what dreams and dregs of monkish idolatry was he drowned, his history declareth, witness recordeth, and this book also partly doth specify ; whose religion was all in Popish ceremonies, his zeal without knowledge, understanding no other justification but in works of the law and merits of his own making, only believing the history, as many do, of Christ's defeth and resurrection, but not knowing the power and strength thereof. After he had thus continued a long space, more pharisaical and zealous in these monkish ways than the common sort of that order, at length it so pleased Almighty God to begin with this man; first to touch his conscience with some remorse and feeling of sin, his mind with fears and misdoubts, whereby he was driven to seek further: so that by searching, seeking, conferring, and by reading of St. Paul, some sparkles of better knowledge began by little and little to appear, which after in time grew up to greater increase. But here it happened to him as commonly it doth to all good Christians ; the more that the true knowledge of Christ in him increased, the more Satan, the enemy, stirred with his fiery darts, with doubts and objections, with false terrors and subtle assaults, seeking by all means possible how to oppress the inward soul, which would fain take his rest in Christ. In these spiritual conflicts and inward wrestlings, how grievously he was encumbered, fighting against incredulity, error, and desperation, marvellous it is to consider; insomuch that three days and three nights together he lay upon his bed without meat, drink, or any sleep, like a dead man, as some of him do write, labouring in soul and spirit upon a certain place of St. Paul, in the third chapter to the Romans, which was " to show his justice ;" thinking Christ to be sent to no other end but to show forth God's justice as an executor of the law; till at length, being answered and touched by the Lord concerning the right meaning of these words, signifying the justice of God to be executed upon his Son, to save us from the stroke thereof, he, immediately upon the same, started up from his bed so confirmed in faith, as nothing afterward could discourage him. Beside other manifold and grievous temptations, which I speak not of, of all sorts and kinds, except only of avarice; with the which vice only he never was tempted nor touched, as of him is written by them that were conversant with him.

In this mean while, during these conflicts and exercises of M. Luther, which, notwithstanding, did him no hurt, but rather turned to his more furtherance in spiritual knowledge, Pope Leo X. sent a jubilee with his pardon abroad through all Christian realms and dominions, whereby he gathered together innumerable riches and treasure: the collectors whereof promised to every one that would put ten shillings in the box, licence to eat white meat and flesh in Lent, and power to deliver what soul he would out of purgatory ; and, moreover, full pardon from all his sins, were they never so heinous. But if it were one jot less than ten shillings, they preached that it would profit him nothing. The abomination whereof was so horrible, that when no other man durst speak, yet Luther could not of conscience hold his peace; but, drawing out certain articles, desired gently to dispute the matter, writing withal a most humble admonition to the Pope, submitting himself in a most humble manner to his censure and judgment. But the Pope thinking great scorn to be controlled of such a friar, took the matter so hot, that he, with all his cardinals, with all the rabble of monks and friars, bishops and archbishops, colleges and universities, kings and princes, with the emperor also himself, were all upon him. If the omnipotent Providence of the Lord from above had not sustained him, what was it for one poor friar to have endured all these sharp assaults of Satan, all the violence of the whole world, having no less than the sun, the moon, and all the seven stars, as they say, against him ; being hated of men, impugned of devils, rejected of nations, by solemn authority condemned, distressed with infirmities, and with all manner of temptations tried and proved. And yet for all these temptations, such was his life, that (as Erasmus, writing to Cardinal Wolsey, affirmeth) none of all his enemies could ever charge him with any note of just reprehension. Again, such were his allegations out of the Scripture, that Roffensis, writing to Erasmus, confesseth himself to be astonished at them.

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