I pray for you, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation, to have the knowledge of him. That is, to have the eyes of your understanding enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope you ought to have of his calling, and what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance among the saints. - Ephesians 1:17-18
All men by nature have some understanding. Not that it shows itself as soon as they are born, but, in process of time, all have discernment between good and evil. And because of that, they are called reasonable creatures. But the understanding we have by nature is not enough to bring us to the kingdom of heaven. For we fall far short when matters concerning the heavenly life come in question. We see that every man applies his mind to the business and affairs of the world, and every man will think about his own interests. Again, although some could wish in their hearts that their own consciences were dead, nevertheless God has engraved the feeling in their hearts that our lives must needs be subject to rule, and even the most wicked and worst-natured of us all are compelled to have some prickings of conscience, and are constrained, whether they will or not, to approve the good and condemn the evil. It is true that when they have committed any fault, they will strive to cover it up with vain excuses. But if a man asks them whether murder, extortion, robbery, whoredom, deceit, and perjury are virtues or not, they will say they are vices worthy to be condemned. Every man will say so. For it is God’s will that there should be such a knowledge printed in man’s heart, so that all should be condemned without excuse, and forced to be their own judges.
But (as I said before) this is not enough to lead us to God and to open to us the kingdom of heaven in such a way that we may know how to be saved, or how to call upon God. Now we are totally blind in that respect, for our insight does not reach beyond the world. Therefore God has to work in us and give us new eyes to understand the things necessary for our salvation. And that is the reason why St. Paul prays to God here to give them enlightened eyes, by which he presupposes that men already have some smattering of understanding, not to reach so high as is necessary, but to have some seed of religion in them, and to perceive that there is a God.
Furthermore, God must give a greater clearness, and such a one as we are quite void of by reason of Adam’s sin, for we are plunged in such darkness that we go utterly contrary to the good way, until God stretches out his hand to us. You see then that what is contained here is that God has done more for us in giving us the eyes of understanding than in making us men and putting us into the world, because thereby he reforms us and gives us a clear and sure insight as to those whom he has elected. For it is a privilege peculiar to his own children and not common to all men. And truly we see that when God manifests his power, it is known only by such as have enlightened eyes, according to that saying of Moses, ‘The Lord has not given you a heart to understand, nor eyes to see, even to this day.’ [Deut 29:4]
We know that miracles were performed in the sight of the people, yet despite the crossing of the Red Sea, the issuing of the water out of the rock, the falling of the manna from heaven, the thick cloud by day and the fiery pillar by night, the plentiful supply of flesh to them, and the horrible punishments God laid upon the rebels and upon such as had given full vent to their own lusts, the people did not understand at all. Moses, telling them that they needed to set about seeking God, that they might be enlightened by his Spirit, says, I see that even unto this hour God’s gracious doings have been buried among you through your ingratitude. But that is because men are stupid and never understand anything that belongs to their salvation, until God has worked in them.
Therefore, you must rid yourselves of all pride, and crave understanding at God’s hand, acknowledging yourselves unable to aspire so high as to judge rightly of God’s works and make yourselves profit by them, until he has given you heavenly spiritual insight. This is the substance of what we have to note in this passage.
Now, on this subject, it is easy to gather how the wretched world has been beguiled by the opinion of freewill which has been put into their heads. For the papists will grant readily enough that without God’s grace we cannot walk as we ought to do; but yet, at the same time, they say that we may well further God’s grace by our own freewill, and so they mix them together. When they set about defining freewill they say it is a complex thing, for we have reason and prudence to choose the good and to refuse the evil, and at the same time, we have also power and ability to perform and carry out what we have purposed. But we see how St. Paul speaks here of man’s reason, which they term the queen that overrules and controls all our thoughts and deeds. He shows that she is stone blind, until God has renewed her, and that it is not a case of there being some vestige of ability in us, so that God has not to do more than supply our deficiencies. Had it been so, St. Paul would have said that God assists such light as we have, or that he increases it, or that he adds to it whatever it stands in need of. However, he does not so speak, but he says, ‘God give you enlightened eyes’, thus showing that it is a free gift, and not simply that our Lord has to bear with our infirmities and to add something to them. He also says that we being blind can see nothing at all, until he has opened our eyes, and that we are guided and governed by this revelation of his Holy Spirit, on which we have touched before.
And now, since men are always liable to run to extremes and busy their heads about many unprofitable things, St. Paul shows us that to which we ought to apply the whole of our minds and hearts, namely, to seeking to know what is the hope of our calling. I have told you already that men are, in a manner of speaking, born to curiosity, and that they rove and range, and devise many evil speculations, and that is the reason why many men torment themselves beyond measure, ever learning and never attaining to the knowledge of the truth, [2 Tim. 3:7] as St. Paul says. Therefore, let us carefully note that all the true knowledge that we must seek, is to attain to the hope to which God has called us. For the purpose of the Scripture is not to feed us with vain and superfluous things, but to edify us for our welfare, that is to say, to make us perceive God’s goodness that we might be joined to him, and that this might be our true happiness.
And from this we may also gather that, until such time as our Lord has enlightened us by his Holy Spirit, we can find neither way nor path to come near the heavenly life, no, not so much as to guess what it is all about. Therefore, our need is that our Lord should put us in possession of our salvation by the power of his Holy Spirit. I told you before that faith serves to give us access to the kingdom of heaven and to the heritage purchased for us by our Lord Jesus Christ, and that it is needful for God to give it to us by his Holy Spirit. Then since it is so, let us observe that we need not only to have the gospel preached to us, but also that God should pierce our ears, so that we may take heed to what is contained in it; and that he should open our eyes to see what he shows us. To be brief, that he may both begin all and bring all to pass.
However, (as I said before) since men, by their vain imaginations, take more upon them than they ought to do, and, on the other hand, despise God’s gifts, St. Paul magnifies here the hope of which we have made mention before, saying ‘what are the riches of the glory of his heritage among the saints’. It is true that when there is any talk of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ, we pronounce them to be lofty matters. Nevertheless, that is only to exempt ourselves from them, if we could escape, so that we could be content to remain completely ignorant of that which appertains to religion. We are insatiable when anybody feeds us with vanities and falsehoods, but if God calls us to his school, we shrink back as much as we possibly can, and we even set this before us as a shield, that we are simple, and that we have but a small and rather dull understanding, and that the secrets of God’s Word are too deep and incomprehensible for us. We know well enough how to say as much as that, and yet it is all hypocrisy and pretence.
And for proof of this, men will always judge according to their own ideas, so that if anything is propounded to them out of God’s Word, they say, Is it so And how is it possible They reason, they call it in question: Is it so? Indeed, it is God that speaks, and yet they will not receive, without contradicting, what is shown them in the name of God. We see, then, that they simply lie in saying they are dull and slow-minded, for they think quite the opposite. The starkest idiots, I say, and the biggest dolts of them all consider themselves to have a wisdom excelling that of God.
Again, on the other hand, what causes the gospel to be despised is that a number of haughty and fanciful people think it is but a simple doctrine, and that it does not have enough subtlety for them. So much the more, therefore, do we need to ponder what is shown us here by St. Paul, which is that the glorious heritage to which God has called us has infinite riches. For in addition to the fact that we are nothing else but mire and rottenness, sin shuts us out from all hope of salvation. And so long as we are God’s enemies, what can we expect at his hand but utter confusion But yet it pleases him to make us partners with the angels of paradise, and even more. For we are made members of our Lord Jesus Christ, in order that we should be partakers of his life and glory. What excellent riches are these! When we have applied the whole of our minds to them, ought we not to be thoroughly ashamed, seeing that God has displayed such inestimable goodness towards us So then, St. Paul, to waken men from their drowsiness and to rebuke and correct their unthankfulness, because they do not commend one hundredth part of God’s grace as they ought to do, tells us that if we think well about it, we shall find that his speaking in this way is to stir us up to pray God to enlighten us, because without him we should not be able to come anywhere near faith, or near any knowledge at all.
Thus we now see St. Paul’s meaning, which he pursues and opens up much more in adding, ‘what is the excellence of his power in us who have believed’. And again, ‘according to the effectual working of the strength of his power’. He here assembles and heaps up many words which all import one thing. But it is, as it were, a correction of the wickedness of men, who endeavour to obscure God’s goodness as much as they can, insomuch that, since they are not able to obscure it altogether, they diminish it in such a way that it does not appear; as if it had but a spark, whereas it ought to have full shining. But, in passing, let us note that when St. Paul puts down here the saints and believers, he means the faithful whom God has already called to him. And by this he shows that even when we have faith, all our holiness proceeds from God’s mercy, and men bring nothing of their own making. It is true that this title of ‘saints’ is very honourable, but yet we must go to the source of holiness, for in ourselves we have nothing but uncleanness. God’s children have to be holy, yet they must consider from where they have it, whether by their own skill or by the gift of God. St. Paul shows here that the praise for it ought to be given to God alone. For it is not without cause that God says so often, ‘I am holy’. [Lev. 11:44; 19:2; I Pet. 1:15] And again, we know that Jesus Christ sanctified himself for us, in order that we might be washed and cleansed from all our pollutions. So much for the first point.
Afterwards follows the cause of our faith, namely, that men do not attain it unless they are drawn by a secret impulse, according as it is said that we must learn from God [Matt. 2:29], not only because his Word contains all wisdom, and God thereby teaches us faithfully what is useful for us, but also because our Lord expressed it very clearly, saying, ‘He that has heard it of my Father’. [Jn. 6:45] He himself, who was the wisdom of God, spoke it, and yet he showed that what he uttered with his mouth could not prevail, unless God spoke within a man by his Holy Spirit. Now, if Jesus Christ could not profit men by his teaching, except insofar as God’s Spirit worked within their hearts, what shall the preaching do which we hear at the mouths of mortal men, who are nothing Men, then, must plant and water, but it is God who gives the increase, as St. Paul says in the third chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians [v. 6].
Furthermore, as I have told you that we must draw all our holiness from Jesus Christ, in whom we shall find all the fulness of it, so let us also understand that, by that saying, we are warned that we are not called to filthiness, to take leave to do evil, but to be, as it were, separated to the service of God. Many men will brag well enough that they are believers — and that word trips lightly from every man’s tongue, — but faith is a more precious thing than we think, for it cleanses our hearts (as it is said in the fifteenth chapter of the Acts [v. 9]) in order that we should be, as it were, separated and set apart to dedicate ourselves wholly to God’s service. But by this it is meant that men are, as it were, of a corrupt and infected lump, until God has drawn out the one sort from the rest. We differ nothing at all, then, from them that are as deeply plunged as possible in all manner of evil and wickedness. We are all alike (I say) as far as our nature is concerned. But they that believe in our Lord Jesus Christ must be, as it were, drawn out from this world, as St. Peter also says in his First Epistle.
Again, we have already seen that we are cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ in order that we might be drawn out from this world, according also as he says in St. John’s Gospel, where he prays to God his Father, not to take us out of this world and out of this transitory life, but to keep the evil of the world from prevailing in us, and to exempt us from it. [Jn. 17:15] You see, then, that what we have to bear in mind is that holiness is the true evidence of our faith. And therefore, whoever is called a Christian ought to be consecrated to God, and must not get entangled, or defile himself with the uncleanness and filthiness of the world. It is true that our holiness shall never be perfect as long as we are in this world, for we always carry our infirmities, and although sin may not overpower us, yet it dwells in us, and we continually battle against it to get the upper hand. But, come what may, when God has once sanctified us, we must apply ourselves to his service, we must endeavour to cleanse ourselves more and more from all vices, and we must give ourselves wholly to him so that we are no more like worldlings, who take leave to do what they wish. This, in effect, is what St. Paul wished to say.
Moreover, there can be no doubt that in this passage he makes a comparison between such as are sunk in total ignorance, or rather are so hardened that they have no inclination at all to submit themselves to the obedience of the gospel, but fight furiously against it, and the faithful, who are like poor sheep attending to the voice of the good shepherd. St. Paul, then, condemns here all scoffers who despise God and are like dogs or brute beasts without any feeling of religion. When we see them, they are all of them mirrors to us, sufficient to make the hairs stand up on our heads, by letting us know what we should be like if God had not taken pity on us. And therefore, when we see people scorn God so openly that they rush in confusion into all kinds of evil, let us acknowledge the infinite goodness of our God, in that he has separated us from that company. Wherefore, when we see one kind stupefied in their unbelief, and another kind full of pride, bitterness, and stubbornness against the gospel, let us understand that we ourselves would be like them, if God had not stretched forth his arm to us.
But now, let us note carefully the words that St. Paul uses here in saying, ‘the excellent greatness of his might, according to the effectual working of the power of his strength’. It would seem that the Holy Spirit intended to thunder upon this devilish opinion with which the world has at all times been stupefied, that is to say, of freewill. For the heathen presumed so far as to say that God had indeed created them to be in the world, and that it was his to give them good fortune, as they termed it, but that it was in every man’s own power and free choice to follow virtue and to behave himself in such a way that no fault might be found in him. See how the heathen divided things between God and themselves. The lesser matter — the setting of us here below to crawl about like frogs, — they left to God, but to attain heaven and to rule ourselves in all virtue, that, they said, was within the range of man’s own ability.
The Jews and the papists have not been altogether of this opinion, for (as I have intimated already) they confess that we have need of God’s help. But yet, for all that, they will have us mix some portion of our own holiness with God’s grace and be able to cooperate with it, as they say, insomuch that when all has been reckoned and every allowance made, the chief part will always be found in ourselves.
But let us see how the Holy Spirit speaks of it. To what end does he use all these terms — highness, power, strength, effectual working, and might? Why does he heap up all these, except to show that men are mad when they will take more upon them than becomes them? There is not one word here which does not serve to silence our cackling, if we boast of even a tiny drop of goodness. For if men say, I have some good disposition in me, I have some virtue, this is what St. Paul speaks of, ‘Highness!’; as if he intended to show that all the goodness we have is above the world and does not have any root or origin in ourselves, but comes from on high, as St. James says. [Jam. 3:17] Again, if men say, that we have some power to withstand our own vices and to fight against temptations, St. Paul says here that our strength, our power, and our might comes from God, and that he must give it to us and we receive it from him. If men still say, that by exerting themselves they can well do I know not what, St. Paul tells us that there is no effectual working, there is no bringing of the thing to pass, unless God grants it according to his speaking of it in the second chapter of the Philippians, [v. 13] where he says that we must walk in fear and with care, seeing that it is God who gives both the will and the ability to perform the will, according to his own good pleasure, that is to say, he begins the work and causes it to be carried out. In brief, let us note that the words the apostle uses here are so many thunderclaps and lightnings, to beat down and subdue all the pride of man, in order that being put to shame in ourselves, we might give God the glory he deserves, and, with all lowliness, frankly and freely confess ourselves to be in the wrong, acknowledging that all goodness comes from him, and that we are indebted for it to him alone. Thus you see how, in effect, what we have to learn from this passage is to prostrate ourselves in such a way that we might have no desire to go shares with God, saying that he only helps us, and that there is some portion of his grace and Holy Spirit in our freewill; but we are to yield to him purely and simply the whole praise for our salvation.
Furthermore, let it also make us despise the world, that we may be contented with the hope of everlasting life which is purchased for us by our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know that although men are generally subject to many afflictions, and that this life of ours is not without reason termed a vale of wretchedness, yet God exercises his own children with a greater abundance of adversities than he does everyone else, because they also at all times have need to be urged to renounce the world. If we should live here too much at our ease and pleasure, what would become of us, seeing that we do not fail to go to sleep here, even though God spurs us and entreats us in so many ways to make haste without delaying here below. You see, then, in few words, how God will exercise us many ways after he has called us to the faith of the gospel, for, otherwise, we might take a distaste to serving him, and it would seem to us that his love were only a very meagre thing, if we did not learn to give up all other things as worthless or of little value, and to embrace Jesus Christ. Therefore, let us learn that it is St. Paul’s intention here to draw us to God in such a way that nothing may prevent us from going on in our calling. If we do not have everything to our liking in this world, let us learn to value the inestimable benefits of our God better than we have done, that we may say with David (as he speaks in his sixteenth psalm [v. s] )’ ‘I have my heritage which satisfies me’; seeing that God has given himself to me, I have such an excellent inheritance that I do not worry about going through all the afflictions of the world — poverty, sickness, reproach, fear, and threatenings — all these things shall be sweet to me, so long as I possess my God, and he makes me feel that he has chosen me and reserved me to himself and purposes to make me a partaker of all his good things.
Thus you see, in effect, that by this passage we are to be heartened and strengthened unto patience, to bear meekly all the afflictions and adversities of the world, and not to be grieved or annoyed: and although God causes us now and then to drink from a bitter cup and gives us reason to sigh and lament, yet we must not fall to grumbling and complaining, but assure ourselves that God has given us good comfort in that he has called us to be partakers of his kingdom, and has so put forth his power already in us that we ought, as it were, to lift ourselves above all earthly things, and to look down at them as at our feet.
And since we do not yet perceive such fulness of God’s grace as were to be wished, St. Paul therefore sends us to the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. And surely if he had not added that God has manifested his power in his only Son, as we have already heard, what a disappointment it would be! For we might plead, by way of reply, How so? Where are these riches of God? For we are not only bereft of the goods of this world, but also we are as a dry and barren ground in respect of the grace of God’s Holy Spirit. If there is any portion of it in us, it is so small that we ought to be ashamed of it, and yet, for all this, we are immersed in our infirmities. If we speak of God’s power, it ought to be victorious over all sin in us. But we are so weak that we are as good as beaten down. Again, it is necessary that God’s image should shine forth in us, but we bear so much filthiness and such blemishes about us as is pitiful to see. We should be wholly consecrated to God, but the world holds us back, and we are, as it were, entangled in it.
See how the faithful might be disheartened when any word were ministered about God’s grace, if they stayed there and were not led forth to Jesus Christ. Not without reason, therefore, St. Paul adds here that God displayed the excellence of his power when he raised our Lord Jesus Christ from death. And he speaks purposely of his resurrection, because in his death we see only what is liable to daunt us. For there appeared nothing but weakness, but by his vanquishing death he showed himself to be the Son of God, even the Lord of glory and life, who had all power in himself. And that also is the reason why St. Paul says that God set him at his right hand. For it would not have been enough for Jesus Christ to have been raised again, unless he had a continual and abiding dominion. It is true that even in his resurrection, we have a testimony that he is the Son of God, but yet, for all that, we must take one further step, namely, that he did not have any sort of power and sway, but, by his rising again, he attained such superiority that all the world is governed by him, and he is now set down at the right hand of God his Father to maintain and preserve his servants that call upon him and put themselves into his keeping, and has sufficient power to overcome Satan and all the world and all our enemies.
Now, then, we see St. Paul’s meaning, that since we might be cast down and our faith at least badly shaken, if we should look no further than to ourselves, therefore he sets Jesus Christ before us as the true pattern, in which we may see that which as yet is unseen in ourselves, that is to say, God’s inestimable power which is greater than that of the whole world. For, first, he is raised from the dead, and, secondly, he is set at the right hand of his Father. Now, speaking of God’s right hand is a similitude taken from men. It is certain that God has neither right hand nor left, for he is infinite and fills both heaven and earth; and again, he has no body, but is of a spiritual essence. Therefore, we must not imagine any particular place when God’s right hand is spoken of. And when it is said that Jesus Christ sits there, it is to show that he fills all the world with his power. It is true that in respect of his manhood, he is in heaven, and it is one of the articles of our faith that he is ascended into heaven. But yet, although he is absent from us in his body and there is a great distance between us, that does not prevent him filling all things with his Holy Spirit and dwelling in us himself and nourishing us by his own substance, according to the saying that his flesh is our meat and his blood our drink. [Jn. 6:55]
You see, then, that God’s right hand is not some particular place where Christ is seated, but the sovereignty he has obtained to govern the whole world; and (as I said before) it is a figure of speech borrowed from men, as when a prince makes his vice-regent, he sets him at his right side, as if to say, See here the second person of my realm whom I will have men to obey. God, then, in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, purposed to show that he is our Father. It is true that the whole fulness of the Godhead is in Jesus Christ. [Col. 2:9] But as we are dull and lazy, and unable to attain to the majesty of God, therefore it is said that Jesus Christ has obtained all authority, so that we are sure that he has put us in his protection and that, being under his hand, we are safe, and all the devils of hell cannot prevail against us. For who is it that has all power It is even our Head. Although, then, we who are his members are weak, yet is there strength enough in the Head, which is the chief part of the body. And so you see for what reason it is said that Jesus Christ is set at the right hand of God his Father, namely, to show us that we do not need to seek far for his help, seeing that he governs all things both above and beneath, and we are committed to his charge here. And now let us sum up what St. Paul is telling us here. He says that God has manifested his high and infinite power in us. Nevertheless, since that is not sufficient by reason of the infirmities we feel, and because there is so much at fault in us still and we are not yet come to our full stature, no, nor even to the hundredth part of it, therefore, in order that we may be the better assured of all the things that we need, we must know that they are to be found in Jesus Christ.
Are we then still subject to death? Take note that Jesus Christ is received up into everlasting life, for the very reason why he became a mortal man like us was that the life which he has might belong to us. Does sin still dwell in us Know that Jesus Christ has neither spot nor blemish in him Are we weak? He is the power of God his Father, and whatever he received in his manhood, which he took of us, was for our sakes and for our profit. In short, whatever we lack, and whatever may comfort or enliven us, we shall find it in our Lord Jesus Christ, in order that we might not be in care and perplexity, as though we were excluded from the benefits that St. Paul has made mention of before. Finally, we should never have any settled trust if we did not know that the things which are lacking in ourselves are in our Head. For the measure of God’s gift of grace is very small even in the most perfect people and in such as are most advanced and have profited most of all. Since it is so, then, we should always be wavering and doubting. But when we know that all is accomplished in our Lord Jesus Christ, and that he is, as it were, the first fruits, and that we have been sanctified in him, and that in his person we have received beforehand what we shall be given in all plenitude hereafter when he has taken us out of this world, there, indeed, lies our certainty, on which we ought to stay ourselves so that we are not overborne by any temptation. In short, we are taught by this text that, although God’s grace is weak in us, that is to say, although he has put only a small beginning of it in us, and not so large an abundance as will be required or is to be wished for, yet, nevertheless, this grace gives us a taste and savour to hope in him. For there cannot be so little grace of his Holy Spirit in us, without us knowing (as St. Paul says in the eighth chapter to the Romans) that it is as a pledge and earnest of the life he has promised us. It is true that this body of sin still dwells in us, but it ought to content us that God vouchsafes to communicate even a little of his Holy Spirit to us.
Furthermore, since we cannot be assured of all these things, in view of the smallness of mind that is in us and our infirmities and needs, therefore we must lift up our eyes to Jesus Christ. Indeed, how does it avail us that we may find all perfection in him; for we are too far off from him. We are far from him with regard to distance of place, and in that respect St. Paul says that we are absent from him, because we walk only by faith and not by open sight and actual viewing. But yet, for all that, we are members of his body. Seeing that it is so, then, just as a root cannot be separated from the tree, but sends forth its sap into all the boughs and branches of it, even so let us understand that the purpose for which our Lord Jesus Christ has, in such fulness, received the spiritual gifts that belong to the heavenly life, is to communicate them to us as far as is needed, stage by stage, according as we shall have profited in the faith.
And, with all this, let us continually bear in mind that we must stoop and humble ourselves and yet be content to find ourselves still far off from the perfection to which it becomes us to aspire, and to be like hungry people, so that we, feeling our own deficiency and need, must run to our God to beg at his hand, knowing that he is able to increase his help from day to day, and that if it were not so, we should be completely lost, and everything would slip away and disappear, unless he continued what he has begun. You see, then, how it is necessary for us to be joined to our Lord Jesus Christ, and to know that there is an inseparable bond between him and us. And, since he once became poor to make us rich (as it is said elsewhere), that is the very means by which all the riches in him are at this day communicated to us. Not that we have the full enjoyment of them, as I said before, but because it is enough for us that we have some small portion of them to make us taste the love of God and to know that he will not fail us in anything, but that since he has given us an assurance that he is come near to us and dwells in us by his Holy Spirit, as we have seen in the Second Letter to the Corinthians, he will also fill us right up to the end.
St. Paul’s use of the word ‘enrich’ is to show that there will always be deficiency and neediness in us. Nevertheless, let us trust boldly to this promise that he which has begun the good work in us will go through with it, even to the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. And that is said to give us some refreshment when our life seems to us to be overlong, and we would be glad if the said perfection were already revealed in us, and that Jesus Christ had come again. But it is said that until that day we must always be journeying, and progressing further and further, and beseeching God that he will not suffer us to falter. We are sure that we shall never fail to experience want and need, but yet he will succour us in such a way that we shall perceive that if he has once vouchsafed to look upon us with the eye of his mercy, it is in order to carry on the work of our salvation at all times, and to cause us to know that he has not united us to our Lord Jesus Christ in vain, but that his so doing has been in order that every one of us might even now, according to the measure of faith, possess the good things that are suitable for him, until he has filled us to the full; which shall be when he has joined us perfectly to him.
But now, let us cast ourselves down before the majesty of our good God, with acknowledgement of our sins, praying him to make us so to feel them that it may draw us from them and cause us to direct our life obediently according to his commandments, so that we may show by our deeds that he has not bought us so dearly in vain, but that we give up all our own fleshly lusts and yield ourselves wholly to the service of him who has once and for all adopted us-for his heritage. And therefore, let us say, Almighty God, our Heavenly Father.